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MCW Researcher to Study Infectious Cycle of Polioviruses

July 26, 2013

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a one year, $360,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study the ways in which polioviruses replicate and become infectious.

William Jackson, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at MCW, is the primary investigator of the grant.

Poliovirus is a member of a group of viruses called picornaviridae, which also includes common human viruses such as coxsackievirus, which causes hand, foot and mouth disease, and and rhinovirus, the primary agent of the common cold. This class of viruses also includes foot and mouth disease virus, which is devastating to cattle herds. The different viruses in the group appear to replicate in the same way, and the methods of replication are not fully understood.

In this project, Dr. Jackson will study tiny bubbles of membranes, called vesicles, in cells infected with poliovirus. An infected cell quickly fills with vesicles, which are believed to then become acidic, creating an environment which helps the virus change into its infectious form. By studying the nature of the vesicles and the way in which infection promotes their development, researchers will learn how this medically important family of viruses subverts cellular pathways to replicate itself. This will provide information to ultimately help identify therapeutic targets that may ultimately lead to treatments against multiple viral diseases.

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