Research Fellows Directory
Dr Joanna Parish
University of Birmingham
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is associated with the development of benign lesions or warts, and several malignant lesions of the epidermal layer including cervical cancer. The majority of sexually active adults will become infected with a genital HPV type at least once in their lives, which is then either cleared by the host immune system or develops into persistent, disfiguring and hard to treat genital warts. In addition, HPV infections can result in the development of carcinoma, particularly in patients that maintain a latent infection over many years. 99.7% of cervical carcinomas are associated with HPV infection and each year 240,000 cervical cancer related deaths are reported. An HPV vaccination program has recently commenced in the UK. Although this is a huge step towards preventing HPV-associated disease, the vaccination of young females only against specific HPV types leaves even vaccinated individuals at risk of infection with other genital HPV types. Therefore, the design of novel therapeutics for persistent HPV infections is both timely and important.
To complete their life cycle, viruses must synthesise proteins in concerted manner, copy their genomes, and partition them to new cells during cell division. This ensures long term or latent infection. By studying the complex interplay between viral and host proteins, I aim to understand how the virus targets specific pathways that are essential for completion of the HPV life cycle. It is my aim that these studies will ultimately aid the development of novel therapeutic agents.