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This week we profile a recent publication in the Journal of Clinical Investigation from Dr.
Pavitra Roychoudhury
in the laboratory of Dr. Joshua Schiffer (pictured) at Fred Hutch.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

We design mathematical models to capture the interactions between viral infection and the immune system. These models are used to deepen our understanding of the ways that infections make people sick, and can ultimately be leveraged to optimize therapies and vaccines.

What is the significance of the findingsĀ inĀ this publication?

In this paper, we developed a realistic three dimensional model which captures the mechanisms that allow a small number of T cells to eliminate rapidly spreading herpes simplex virus-2 in genital skin. The model generates videos which provide an approximation of what the disease looks like as it spread through tissue, but is ultimately contained. The work has broad applicability for multiple human viral infections. It suggests that antiviral cytokines, which are chemicals produced by activated T cells, are highly effective at diffusing within tissue and preventing viral spread, even there are only a small number of T cells in a defensive role.

What are the next steps for this research?

In the long-term, we are hopeful that these findings can ultimately be leveraged for therapeutic vaccine development. In the short-term, we seek to identify the specific cytokines which exert these mechanisms and how different cytokines amplify and then cool down the intense local immune response in tissue.

This work was funded by:

The work is funded through NIAID.

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