Virology research group

 
Mari Kaarbø<br>Group leader
Mari Kaarbø
Group leader

The Virology Research Group focuses on basic and translational research of the pathogenesis of chronic viral infections related to immune suppression. We are using human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV) and human cytomegalovirus (CMV) as model systems for chronic virus infections, which are characterized by a pattern of latency and reactivation. 

Challenges

HIV is a lentivirus which results in a chronic infection and is the causative agent of AIDS. The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has led to a drastic improvement for the prognosis of HIV infection but several challenges remain. HIV has big genetic variation and high risk for development of resistance to antiviral drugs. In addition, there is a low level of continuous virus replication and persistent immune activation. Despite effective treatment, the virus persists in different reservoirs, which are unreachable for both the immune system and the drugs used for treatment.

CMV is a widely spread β-herpesvirus, that establishes life-long latency after primary infection. In Norway about 50% of the population is infected by the age of 20 and the prevalence increases with age. In healthy individuals, primary infection is usually subclinical. In contrast, primary infection or reactivation of CMV in immunosuppressed patients may cause severe disease, eventually with fatal outcome. In addition, infection with CMV is a big threat for pregnant women as primary infection of the developing foetus can cause severe brain damage. We study the pathogenesis and immune responses of chronic virus infections caused by HIV or CMV infections in order to better understand virus host cell interactions. This may reveal mechanisms of importance for improved treatment strategies and principles.

Projects

  • Clinical implications of low frequency drug-resistant HIV subpopulations
  • HIV-infected patients with immunovirological discordance in response to ART: Studies of viral dynamics, immune activation, and microbial translocation
  • Latent cellular viral reservoirs in chronic HIV infection: Epigenetic regulation and clinical implications
  • Studies of epigenetic regulation of CMV latency and reactivation
  • Role of DNA damage and DNA repair during CMV replication
  • Role if autophagy and apoptosis during CMV infection
  • CMV-specific T-cell immunity in renal transplant patients

Contact information:
Group leader Mari Kaarbø, Department of Microbiology, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, PO Box 4950 Nydalen, NO-0424 Oslo, Norway

Tel: +47 23071141 E-mail: mari.kaarbo@rr-research.no