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The Art of Self- Defence (Nature) (click to download)

Patrizia Caposio, Ph.D.

The focus of my research is to understand the molecular mechanisms of the interaction between Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and host cells. In particular the topics I'm interested in are:

1) identify the mechanisms of chronic disease due to HCMV persistent infection: the importance and the interest of HCMV as a pathogen has increased over the past two decades, with the escalation in the number of immunosuppressed patients, either undergoing immunosuppressive therapy following solid organ or bone marrow transplantation. Epidemiological and animal studies have been linked HCMV infection to the development of vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, restenosis and transplant vascular sclerosis, however the mechanisms involved in this process remain unknown. A growing body of evidence supports a role for angiogenesis and wound healing in the development of vascular disease, for this reason the goal of my laboratory is to understand how the virus induces angiogenesis. In particular we are trying to identify the class of viral gene(s) involved in this process as well as the critical cellular factors secreted from infected cells induced by these gene(s) that induce angiogensis.

2) establish human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) as a new human vaccine vector platform. Unique characteristics of CMV are: a) ability to re-infect and disseminate through the population regardless of prior CMV immunity b) a capacity to induce high levels of humoral and cellular immune responses against the heterologous pathogen target antigen c) a capacity to maintain these responses essentially for the life of the host d) induction of 'effector memory'-based immunity (T cells localized to mucosal effector sites with immediate effector function) and e) the potential to insert large cassettes in which theoretically over 50kb of the viral genome can be replaced with foreign DNA. A vaccine strategy using a CMV-based vector expressing antigens from different pathogens may be ideally suited for several reasons: it can help us to study the role of the T-cell response in the control of the disease and can re-infect and establish a persistent infection regardless the host CMV immunity.

Biography
Dr. Patrizia Caposio received her B.Sc in Biology from University of Turin, Italy in 1999. She obtained her Master in Microbiology and Virology in 2004 and the doctorate degree in Biochemistry in 2007 at the Department of Public Health and Microbiology, University of Turin. In the period 2005-2009 she became research assistant professor at the University of Turin. She is currently an assistant scientist at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, OHSU.