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Virus genomics and molecular epidemiology

A characteristic of viruses is that their genetic code (DNA or RNA) can mutate relatively quickly. As a consequence, a large number of genetically different variants of the same virus can occur within a single individual and between individuals infected with the same virus.

The virus genomics and molecular epidemiology group collects samples that (can) contain viruses (e.g. blood samples from patients or food samples). The samples are then analyzed using tools that can characterize the genetic diversity of viruses. The group then analyzes the genetic diversity of viruses to study:

  • The genetic diversity of a virus within an individual. This can be important as viral diversity can increase with increasing disease progression.
  • The genetic diversity between species. This information can be used to identify the source of a particular virus. E.g. by comparison of genetic diversity between species it was found that SARS originated from bats.
  • If novel viruses can be identified by comparing the genetic code of a virus in a sample to the genetic code of known viruses.
      

The group works on a large number of viruses including Ebola, hepatitis B and C, HIV, influenza, MERS, norovirus and many other viruses. The group has recently published about the evolution of Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Ongoing research projects 

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Research team

Prof. Dr. MPG Koopmans, DVM
Dr. DAMC van de Vijver
Dr. HJ van den Ham
Dr. M. de Graaf
D. van Nieuwenhuijse, MSc

Virogenesis

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