Queen's University secures €1.5m to study how viruses hijack our cells

  • Queen's University has secured part of a massive €677 million Europe-wide grant to study how flu viruses hijack cells to make copies of themselves.

    Viruses come in a range of shapes and sizes, with the simplest types being little more than a strand of RNA encased in a structure that lets it enter our cells. They rely on the raw materials and machinery inside our cells to do the work of reproducing new copies of the virus in order to spread, but the exact mechanism isn't fully understood.

    Queen's University's Dr David Courtney is one of 436 laureates from the 2020 European Research Council Starting Grants competition, a huge €677 million Europe-wide grant to tackle major scientific questions like these that are currently unanswered.

    Dr Courtney's research will specifically investigate how influenza viruses hijack with the machinery inside our cells. The €1.5m project will run for five years and it's hoped that it will provide a better understanding of the interaction of viruses with our cells, potentially allowing researchers to target new drugs to disrupt key steps the virus uses.

    The project could lead to the development of new antiviral treatments not just against the flu but also against other viruses that spread rapidly, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus that's causing the current coronavirus pandemic. "By exploring the mechanisms by which influenza viruses’ replicate inside our cells we hope to come up with some potential answers to the question ‘how do we prevent the next viral pandemic," explained Dr Courtney.

    Source: QUB News

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