This prestigious 5 year award will support the group’s continued efforts to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying influenza virus transcription.
Influenza viruses are important human and animal pathogens that have the potential to cause severe respiratory disease and death in humans. Influenza A and B viruses are responsible for seasonal epidemics while influenza A viruses, which can infect a wide range of animal species, also have the potential to cause pandemics. Influenza vaccines are available, but they need annual updating and efficacy varies depending on the match between the vaccine and the circulating virus. In the case of an emerging pandemic virus, no vaccine would be available initially, and any initial management would rely on antivirals, which currently have limited efficacy.
The RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of influenza virus is essential for viral transcription and replication. It is a conserved multifunctional enzyme complex and hence an ideal drug target. The MRC programme grant secured by the Fodor group will allow them to gain mechanistic insights into influenza virus transcription, genome replication, trafficking and assembly, building on their recent advances in these areas. This work will allow the group to further our understanding of the molecular basis of influenza host range and virulence, and to identify novel targets for the development of antivirals.
Ervin said: “I was delighted to hear the news. This new programme grant will enable us to look much deeper into influenza virus transcription, genome replication and trafficking, specifically focusing on the cellular context of these processes. Many thanks to all of those who contributed the work forming the basis of this programme and also big thanks to our long-term collaborators, especially Jon Grimes and his team, at Strubi.”
Ervin undertook his postgraduate studies at the Dunn School, receiving his DPhil in Pathology in 1995. Before establishing his group at the Dunn School, he also spent time at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He became a member of EMBO in 2021, and was elected a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2020. He was also awarded the AstraZeneca Award by the Biochemical Society in 2019.