Our work centers on basic RNA and infection biology, with a focus on small RNAs, extracellular vesicles and RNA trafficking in host-pathogen systems. We have developed many collaborations over the last 7 years to carry this out through multidisciplinary approaches, and to translate our basic findings towards new strategies for treating and controlling virus and parasite infections.
We have found specific small RNAs whose abundance levels impact the ability of viruses to replicate and spread and we are interrogating the therapeutic mechanisms of these RNAs in respiratory virus infections through collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson Innovation. This has also involved collaboration with Prof. Jurgen Schwarze and Prof. Bernadette Dutia at the University of Edinburgh.
We maintain collaborations with Rick Maizels’ lab and Simon Babayan’s lab for aspects of our helminth research and Mark Blaxter’s lab for nematode genomics. We collaborate with Amy Pedersen to understand the role of small RNAs in enabling nematodes to respond to changes in the environment in wild mice (supported by the Leverhulme Trust). We have shared PhD students with immunologists studying the roles of small RNAs in specific cell populations and the functional properties of RISCs during T cell activation with Rose Zamoyska.
We have also extended the helminth extracellular RNA studies towards analysis of their biomarker potential in filarial infection. This has involved many collaborators in the UK, Germany, Cameroon and USA, including Ken Pfarr, Achim Hoerauf, Ben Makepeace, Sam Wanji and microRNA diagnostic companies.
We are now leading or supporting a range of extracellular RNA studies to understand their diagnostic capacity and build foundational knowledge on exRNA functions in human and animal diseases. Contact Amy Buck for more information.