The Martin-Sancho lab studies mechanisms of host defence against RNA viruses and conversely strategies deployed by these viruses to subvert these defences and promote survival. By studying these conflicts, we aim to identify viral and host factors that influence the outcome of infection and host range.
The lab is particularly interested in studying Flaviviruses, including Dengue, Zika and West Nile virus. Once restricted to their non-human primate (NHP) or bird reservoir, these viruses are now the most prevalent mosquito-borne viruses in humans and cause over 300 million infections every year. The lab is interested in addressing four fundamental questions: 1) How do human cells control Flavivirus replication? 2) What are the critical virus-host conflicts that define flavivirus pathogenesis? 3) What factors control the interspecies transmission potential of these viruses? 4) What viral and host factors influence the outcome of flavivirus infection and potentially of other viruses? To answer these questions, the Martin-Sancho lab integrates expertise in systems biology, comparative genomics and molecular virology, and utilizes clinically relevant models of infection. Ultimately, it is hoped that our work will lead to a significant shift in our understanding of Flavivirus control, will help predict viral interspecies transmission events and provide new avenues for the development of much needed antiviral therapies.
Laura graduated in Molecular Biology from the University of Salamanca, Spain and obtained a Masters in Biochemistry joint between the University of Oviedo, Spain and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. She received her PhD from the Max Plank Institute for Infection Biology, Germany under the mentorship of Prof. Thomas F. Meyer. Supported by the Marie Curie EIMID ITN PhD Fellowship, her PhD thesis uncovered host factors involved in the host tropism of influenza A viruses. It was her PhD work studying the tropism of zoonotic viruses that stimulated her curiosity to study how the genetic make-up of cells determines their potential to support replication of zoonotic viruses. Laura then joined the laboratory of Prof. Sumit K. Chanda now at the Scripps Research Institute, USA, where she leveraged systems biology to define mechanisms of viral restriction against influenza A virus and SARS-CoV-2 at a global scale. Mechanistically, she was able to uncover the mechanism utilized by influenza A virus to evade degradation by autophagy and the evasion of host restriction factor BST2 by SARS-CoV-2 Orf7a. She started her own group as a Lecturer in the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London in 2023.
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