GVN Publishes Article, “Challenging Chikungunya,” in Antiviral Research on the spread, treatment and vaccine development of Chikungunya

“Challenging Chikungunya” is one of a series of articles posted by Antiviral Research and based on a symposium, “Chikungunya discovers the New World,” co-sponsored by GVN and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH).

GVN Senate Testimony on Ebola

PDF of Article

Middle East Virus Travels to Far East

Middle East Virus (MERS) Travels to Far East

On June 14, The World Health Organization (WHO) described the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in South Korea as “large and complex.” The WHO, joined by South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, called for strengthening of contact tracing, monitoring and quarantine as well as expanded laboratory testing to prevent further spread of the virus. To date there have been 150 cases and 16 deaths in South Korea.

The MERS virus is a coronavirus, similar to the SARS coronavirus that erupted in China in 2003 and subsequently spread to 25 other countries, causing 774 deaths worldwide. As with SARS, the MERS virus likely has its origin in bats. MERS may then be transmitted to camels. Many human cases of MERS appear to be linked with previous contacts with camels.

MERS first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The virus causes a severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. So far, Saudi has had 1,030 cases, of which 453 (44%) were fatal. (A world map of other MERS cases is available here.)

With the sudden jump of MERS virus into South Korea many scientists and public health officials are questioning why no vaccine candidates are available. Coronaviruses in general, and the SARS and MERS viruses in particular, have been extensively studied, along with their molecular biology and host immune responses. Some of that basic knowledge was developed and used by GVN Center Director and globally recognized SARS and MERS expert Dr. Ab Osterhaus to develop a candidate vaccine. Dr. Osterhaus used another virus, adenovirus, to carry proteins thereby eliciting immune responses in an animal model. In mice, this candidate prevents infection from the native MERS virus.

Recent reports in Reuters lay some of the blame for slow progress on vaccines at the door of the closed and often secretive kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The other source of foot-dragging is the uncertain market size, and manufacturing costs. Reuters notes “only a handful of small biotechs, including Greffex, Inovio, Novavax, have done any MERS vaccine work and their research is still pre-clinical. For profit-orientated drug companies, the problem is working out who is going to use a vaccine, who is going to pay for it and whether this is a commercial market.”

“The Global Virus Network works to spur research on viral threats, before they become pandemic,” said GVN’s President. “Working with Dr. Osterhaus, Dr. Mathew Frieman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and other GVN experts, we hope to advance understanding of MERS in order to speed development of treatment and preventions,” she added.


GVN Scandinavia-Baltic-Ukraine Region 2015 Meeting


Global Virus Network conference of virologists for the Scandinavia-Baltic-Ukraine region

8th-10th of June, 2015

Djurönäset, Sweden

GVN convenes regional conference in Stockholm, Sweden.  10 countries joining in.

–Meeting Agenda–

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Monday, June 8th
12.45 – 14.00     Lunch

Session 1              14.00-16.00 (Chair Anders Vahlne)

14.00 – 14.15         Welcome words. Andres Merits (Estonia), Anders Vahlne (Sweden)

14.15 – 14.30         Welcome words GVN’s Presdent

14.30 – 15.00         Peter Liljeström, Karolinska InstitutetThe making of a chikungunya vaccine”

15.00 – 15.30         Åke Lundkvist, Uppsala University “Rats – an emerging threat?”

15.30 – 16.15         Check in and Coffee break

Session 2              16.15 – 18.00 (Chair Andres Merits)

16.15 – 16.30         Erkki Truve, Tallinn University of Technology: “A proposal for the creation of the family Sobemoviridae

16.30-16.45          Cecilia Sarmiento, Tallinn University of Technology: “Viral silencing suppressors“

16.45-17.00          Irina Golovljova, Institute of Health development, Estonia– “Circulation of  Hepatitis E virus in Estonia“

17.00 – 17.30         Jonas Klingström, Karolinska InstitutetHantavirus in the cell – who kills who, how, and what are the consequences?”

17.30 – 18.00         Jan Albert, Karolinska Institutet ” HIV-1 evolution in patients followed from early into chronic infection with whole-genome deep sequencing”

18.00 – 19.30         Networking

19.30 – 21.00         Conference dinner

Tuesday, June 9th

Session 3              09.40 – 12.40 (Chair Anders Vahlne)

9.40 – 10.10           “Global Virus Network: Priorities and Progress” GVN’s President

10.10-10.30           Baiba Niedre-Otomere, Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, Latvia “Recombinant Semliki Forest virus replicon approach in search of an improved vaccine for Hepatitis B virus: induction of neutralizing antibodies”

10.30-10.45           Coffee break

10.45 – 11.30         Joakim Dillner, Karolinska Institutet “Expanding the family of human papillomaviruses”

11.30 – 12.15         Cecilia Söderberg-Naucler, Karolinska InstitutetIs there a role for Cytomegalovirus in cancer?”

12.15-12.30         Pratyush Kumar Das, University of Tartu: Developing alphavirus research tools from biochemical profile of nonstructural protein 2”

12.30-12.35          Oksana Yurchenko, SB «Mechnikov Ukranian Anti-Plague Research Institute of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine», Odessa, Ukraine “Characterization of Two Strains of Tribec Virus Isolated in Ukraine”

12.35-12.40          Iaroslava Maksymovych, Palladin Institute of Biochemistry of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine “Biosafety and Biosecurity Issues in Ukraine”

12.45 – 13.30 Lunch

Session 4              13.30 – 15.00 (Chair Jan Balzarini)

13.30 – 14.15         Robert C. Gallo, GVN Co-Founder, Institute of Human Virology, Baltimore, Maryland “Developing a Successful HIV Vaccine.”

14.15 – 15.00         Michael Kann, University of Bordeaux, France “Travelling through the cell with HBV – from basic research to therapy options”.

Session 5                             15.00-15.40 Short talks (Chair Peter Horal)

 Merike Sõmera, Tallinn University of Technology: „Plant viruses detected in cereals in Estonia“

Anna Ivanova, Institute of Health development, Estonia – „Detection of tick-borne encephalitis virus RNA in acute samples of TBE patients“

Kairi Värv, Institute of Health development, Estonia – “Characterization of TBEV natural foci in Estonia“

Kristi Huik ,University of Tartu “Co-infection with HCV in HIV-positive subjects in Estonia”

Pilleriin Soodla, University of Tartu “Estonian HIV cohort study”

Eveli Kallas University of Tartu “The immune phenotype of Caucasian intravenous drug users and its associations with HIV, HCV and HBV serostatuses”

Hanna Artemchuk, Ukraine and Karolinska Institutet The role of HPV-testing in early diagnosis of cervical intraepithelial lesions”

Helena Faust, Karolinska Institutet “Usage of Pseudovirions in HPV serology and HPV vaccine efficacy follow-up”

15.40-15.55           Coffee break

Session 6              15.55-16.40 Short talks (Chair Peter Horal)

Alma Gedvilaite, the Institute of Biotechnology of Vilnius University      “Detection and characterization of novel polyomaviruses in wild rodents”

Milda  Norkiene, the Institute of Biotechnology of Vilnius University   “Expression in yeast of novel human polyomaviruses VP1-derived virus-like particles, their purification and application in serology”

Rasa Petraityte-Burneikiene, the Institute of Biotechnology of Vilnius University “Production in yeast of human bocavirus 1-4 VP2 virus-like particles and generation of VP2-specific monoclonal antibodies as novel tools for bocavirus serology”

Indre Kucinskaite-Kodze, the Institute of Biotechnology of Vilnius University “Evaluation of trichodysplasia spinulosa-associated polyomavirus capsid protein as a new carrier for insertion of foreign epitopes”

Aurelija Zvirbliene, the Institute of Biotechnology of Vilnius UniversityUniversity “Construction of polyomavirus-derived pseudotype virus-like particles harbouring functionally active antibody molecules”

Eva Žusinaite, University of Tartu “Swapping of functional regions of alphavirus genomes”.

Anda Vilmane, , Riga Stradins University August Kirchenstein Institute of Microbiology and Virology, Latvia “Detection of human bocavirus 1 in children with lower respiratory tract diseases in Latvia”

Kristine Vaivode, Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, Latvia “PBMC stimulation with dsRNA provokes DC maturation”

Karina Spunde, Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, Latvia “PreS1 dependent HBV entry modelling in cell culture”

16.40 – 17.00         Coffee break

Session 7              17.00 – 18.30 (Chair Andres Merits)

17.00-17.15           Radko Avi, University of Tartu ”HIV-1 resistance in Estonia through the


17.15-17.35         Dace Pjanova, Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, Latvia “Comparison of lymphocyte activity after their ex vivo stimulation with dsRNA”     

17.35 – 18.20         Stefan Schwartz, University of LundRNA binding proteins that control HPV16 gene expression.”

18.20 – 18.50         Andres Merits, University of Tartu “Alphavirus neurovirulence is affected by virus ability to induce interferon expression”

18.50 – 19.30         Networking

19.30 – 21.00         Conference dinner

Wednesday, June 10th

Check out before 10.30

Session 6              9.30 – 12.30 (Chair Anders Vahlne)

9.30 – 10.00           Mart Ustav University of Tartu : “Development of  diagnostic and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies from different species using non-hybridoma technology.”

10.00 – 10.30        Gerald McInerney , Karolinska InstitutetViral and cellular proteins containing FGDF motifs bind G3BP to block stress granule formation”

10.30-10.45           Coffee break

11.00-11.30           Bastian Thaa, Karolinska Institutet  “Activation of PI3K–Akt–mTOR pathway upon infection with Old World alphaviruses”

11.30 – 12.00         Sigvard Olofsson, Gothenburg UniversityO-linked glycosylation of viral envelope proteins: A rapidly developing field”

12.00 – 12.30         Tomas Bergström, Gothenburg UniversityCholestanol-conjugated sulfated oligosaccharide PG545 disrupts lipid envelope of herpes simplex virus particles”

12.45 – 13.45         Lunch

14.00                     Departure of bus to Stockholm[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]