Evolution has produced an ‘arms race’ between viruses and the cells they infect, with viruses trying to enhance their replication, and cells trying to resist. Studying this battle helps us focus on the most important processes for viruses and cells.
‘Proteins’ are the critical building blocks of cells, and are themselves made up of long chains of ‘amino acids’. Dr Matheson has recently discovered that the HIV viruses responsible for AIDS specifically manipulate proteins which transport amino acids into white blood cells of the immune system. He is currently performing further basic research studies to understand the importance of amino acid transporters for HIV infection and, more generally, their role in the immune system.
This work employs cutting-edge technologies which are being used to identify potential targets for new HIV treatments, as well as pathways in immune cells which may be exploited to dampen down the immune response, in settings like transplantation.