Antiviral drug discovery

Our laboratory is interested in the molecular biology and pathogenesis of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) and polyomaviruses (HPyVs), two families of small DNA tumor viruses that are widespread in the human population and cause significant diseases. While oncogenic HPV types are the cause of most anogenital and oropharyngeal cancers, reactivation of HPyVs in immunosuppressed individuals can lead to different pathologies including viral-induced nephropathy in kidney transplant patients, progressive multifocal encephalopathy in multiple sclerosis patients under immunosuppressive drug therapy, and Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare but very aggressive type of skin cancer, to name a few. Our laboratory has a particular interest in elucidating the mechanism used by these viruses to replicate their circular double-stranded DNA genome as episomes in the nucleus of infected cells. Functional genomics, proteomics and chemical biology approaches are used to identify cellular pathways targeted by these viruses. Another important aspect of our research is the development of high-throughput assays for the screening of small molecule inhibitors of viral replication as potential drug leads for the treatment of HPV and HPyV associated diseases.

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