Examining the function of mitochondrial proteases in flu pathogenesis
Every year, people fall ill with the flu, a respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus. Our main tools for fighting deadly flu outbreaks are vaccines and antiviral drugs. But, despite their availability in Canada, seasonal flu still kills thousands of people and hospitalizes tens of thousands more annually. A big part of the problem is that eradicating the virus does not ultimately determine if a patient will survive the flu.
We now realize that cells can initiate their own death by necrosis to clear dangerous infections. But too much necrosis ends up destroying so much tissue in the lungs that they can no longer deliver enough oxygen to the blood, resulting in hypoxia and increased mortality. This research project focuses on investigating the identity and function of protein regulators of necrosis that provide optimal viral control in the relative absence of pathology. The aim is to provide a better understanding of control of tissue necrosis, a key step towards developing new methods to combat the flu.