Research Fellows Directory
Dr Chitra Pattabiraman
University of Liverpool
I work on viruses that enter the brain to cause a life-threatening inflammation (encephalitis). The virus I am studying now is called Japanese encephalitis virus. This virus is carried by mosquitoes common in the tropics, particularly around rice fields. Most people infected with the virus will show mild symptoms such as fever, however few infections, particularly those in children can result death or permanent long-term damage to the neurons.
We know that Japanese encephalitis virus gets into the blood-stream during a mosquito bite, however, how it ends up in the brain is not well understood. I am studying this process by setting up a model of the blood-brain barrier, a cellular barrier that limits the passage of substances – including immune cells and drugs, from the blood to the brain. Looking at viral infection of various cells of blood-brain barrier will allow us to understand the interaction between the cells and the virus. This in turn will aid in establishing which cell-types and events are critical for virus entry into the brain. Currently there is no specific treatment for the brain-inflammation (encephalitis) caused by Japanese encephalitis virus, understanding virus-cell interactions is likely to provide targets for therapy.
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