Martijn van Hemert is one of the principal investigators at the Leiden University Medical Center Department of Medical Microbiology and will be speaking at the NCOH Annual Scientific Meeting on 30 May 2018 on the subject of inhibition of chikungunya virus replication. Beforehand we asked him three questions.
What question are you trying to answer with your research?
We aim to understand at the molecular level how pathogenic RNA viruses replicate and interact with the host cell, with the ultimate goal of inhibiting their replication. At the moment the research within my group is mainly focussed on Zika and chikungunya virus, two viruses that are transmitted by mosquitos and that have affected the lives of millions of people around the world over the past decade.
Why is this important?
Many emerging infections and large outbreaks of infectious diseases are caused by (re)emerging RNA viruses that can cause serious disease in humans and livestock. Increasing globalization, changes in human behaviour and climate change will likely only increase problems with the (re)emergence and further spread of viral diseases. At the same time we are very much unprepared against these viruses, as effective antiviral therapy or registered vaccines to treat or prevent infections are still not available for many RNA viruses.
What do you ultimately want to achieve?
The molecules and antiviral strategies that we discover and study in the lab should ultimately lead to the development of antiviral therapy to prevent or cure infections that currently are a large burden to societies and the quality of life of individual patients. For example people suffering from the persistent joint pains caused by chikungunya virus infection. Broad-spectrum antivirals should prepare us for outbreaks of new and yet unknown viruses that will undoubtedly emerge in the future.
The second edition of the NCOH Magazine has been published at the Annual Scientific Meeting at Radboudumc 17 may. Here is your chance to look at the digital version.
Will we be able to respond adequately when an unknown virus with pandemic potential emerges? The recent outbreak of MERS in the Middle East was an interesting testcase. Martine van Roode and Carolina dos Santos Ribeiro analysed the factors that hampered, or enabled, the flow of information, in Qatar and the wider Arabian peninsula.
Erasmus MC professor Marion Koopmans, head of the Viroscience department at Erasmus MC and scientific director of the NCOH, has been chosen by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) as a new member.
Young NCOH is the network for PhD students and post-docs from the NCOH research groups. Aim of the network is sharing knowledge and expertise in One Health related disciplines, which can lead to new collaborations in research. The kick off of the network takes place at the Annual Scientific Meeting, 17 May 2019 (ASM2019).