The Murcia Group
Our main research interest is to understand the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms that underpin viral host switching and viral emergence.
Within our programme we pursue two lines of investigation, influenza emergence & the virome of disease. This work integrates a range of disciplines such as classical virology, molecular and evolutionary biology, epidemiology and mathematical modeling.
Influenza viruses cause significant burden to both humans and animals as they seem to have an innate ability to immune evasion and host-switching. To understand the phylodynamics of influenza viruses we have studied the evolution of swine and equine influenza viruses at different scales. We are currently applying ultra-deep sequencing to further characterize the mutational spectra of within host viral populations at the whole genome level.
Sequencing of respiratory viruses directly from clinical specimens: Although this is now possible thanks to the development of new sequencing technologies, there were no established methodologies to analyze this kind of data. We collaborated with other groups to help developing suitable algorithms to tackle this issue. Fiona Thorburn, a clinical fellow in our group, together with and Rory Gunson (NHS-WoSSVC), have established protocols at the CVR based on metagenomics approaches to sequence respiratory viruses without the need of virus culture or a priori knowledge of the sequences of the viruses present in the sample. Using these methodologies we have already processed and sequenced different respiratory viruses (such as Rhinovirus, Coronavirus, Influenza A viruses, enterovirus 68) directly from nasal swabs from a cohort of patients with acute upper respiratory tract infections.
We also use canine influenza virus (CIV) as a model system to study influenza emergence. CIV emerged in the early 2000's as a result of a direct interspecies transfer of equine influenza virus (EIV) to the dog. One of the aims of our laboratory is to map the molecular determinants of CIV emergence.
The virome of disease
Identification of viral sequences from metagenomics data: Traditionally, viral diseases have been studied from a "single pathogen" perspective. However, it is clear that the host microbiome must play a key role in the clinical outcome of viral infection. We are currently establishing a metagenomics pipeline to try to address this issue using two human diseases as case studies: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and common cold.
- Studentship to Caroline Chauche, Horserace Betting Levy Board, £101,890 (2014-2017)
- Intrinsic barriers to influenza virus infection in the horse, Horserace Betting Levy Board, £206,050 (2015-2018)