Virgo: new intervention strategies for respiratory virus infections
2004 - 2008
Respiratory virus infections are among the leading causes of death in humans and animals, causing considerable suffering and economic losses worldwide. Major causes of these infections are influenza virus, respiratory syncytical virus (RSV) and also the recently discovered human metapneumovirus (hMPV), all of which have counterparts in the animal world. In the Netherlands alone, the annual costs associated with the treatment of respiratory virus infections in human exceed 300 million Euro. Influenza virus is the leading cause of these infections: Each year, 5 to 10 percent of the population suffers from influenza during the winter season. Major worldwide outbreaks of influenza are sporadic, but have caused the death of at least 50 million people in the past century. Possible future global outbreaks pose a threat not to be ignored. Intervention strategies for respiratory infections are not available at present or are only effective to a limited extent. The main objective of VIRGO is to improve the rational design of vaccination and other intervention strategies for respiratory virus infections. For the rational design and development of effective and safe preventive and therapeutic intervention strategies against microbial infections of humans and animals, understanding of the host-microbe interaction at the cellular and molecular levels is of critical importance. In the last decades knowledge about this interaction and about intervention strategies for viral infections has increased considerably but our knowledge is far from complete. By applying genomics and bioinformatics tools VIRGO is aiming at breakthroughs in the understanding of immune mediated protection as well as immune mediated pathogenesis after infection or vaccination.