My laboratory studies the structure and assembly of small DNA viruses. Specifically we are addressing three fundamental control points for this assembly process: 1) how is capsid assembly prevented in the cytoplasm, 2) how do the capsid proteins identify their genome for encapsidation, and 3) are specific nuclear sites, ND10 domains, used as 'workbenches' to couple viral DNA replication with capsid assembly. The study of human PV protein assembly has been translated into the development of vaccine reagents for the prevention of cervical cancer. We have found that L1 capsomeres are equally as effective in eliciting a protective immune response as fully assembled VLPs, and can be economically manufactured using bacterial expression. We are now developing a capsomeric L1 vaccine as a next generation prophylactic vaccine for use in resource-poor areas of the world where the need is great. In addition, we are applying new thermostability technology to a variety of vaccines.
structure and assembly of small DNA viruses with a focus on polyoma and papillomaviruses, development of low cost HPV vaccines for underdeveloped countries, new methods of vaccine delivery