Blegdamsvej 3B, Building: 07-13
2200 København N.
I am currently hiring postdocs for working on real-time imaging of virus entry as well as HCV-specific antibody discovery by phage display panning of patient libraries (see below for additional details).
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My group investigates positive-stranded RNA virus evasion from neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) at a molecular level with a focus on how hepatitis C virus (HCV) is able to establish chronic infection and even persist in the presence of high levels of NAbs in patients. We have set up many novel assays to analyze molecular features of the virus envelope proteins and how they shape NAb sensitivity and viral entry; two phenomena that we are finding to be intimately linked. The complexities of studying these dynamic processes has necessitated a holistic approach in collaboration with numerous top research groups around the world including Italy, France, Belgium and the US.
We are currently five researchers in my group based at Department of Infectious Diseases at Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre as well as the 13th floor of the Mærsk tower at University of Copenhagen (Panum). In addition, we collaborate extensively with international groups on antibody discovery and protein modelling as well as within our program, which is the Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (CO-HEP).
Primary areas of research
We wish to understand HCV NAb evasion to enable effective vaccine development. Thus, we work on NAb evasion mechanisms of HCV, such as the breadth of protected epitopes (Prentoe et al., Hepatology, 2016) and the relevance of this phenomenon in vivo (Prentoe et al., Gut, 2016). More recently, the link between different antibody evasion mechanisms, specifically hypervariable region 1 (HVR1)-mediated and N-linked glycan mediated (Prentoe et al., PNAS, 2019) as well as HVR1-mediated and resistance-associated polymorphism (RAP)-mediated (Augestad et al., Sci Adv, 2020). These recent studies have established the crosstalk between these antibody evasion mechanisms and solidified the link between antibody evasion and virus entry (Prentoe et al., Front. Immunol. 2019).
We have uncovered ways to work with native HCV E1/E2 protein (unpublished), which will allow unprecedented studies of receptor and NAb interactions at a molecular level and, importantly, facilitate the potential discovery of a novel class of broadly reactive NAbs (postdoc applicants: Please email me if you are interested). In addition, we are working to fluorescently label fully infectious HCV and relevant receptors, with the goal of visualizing HCV entry directly (postdoc applicants: Please email me if you are interested).
My goal is to bring together all areas of research required to answer fundamental questions of how viruses, and specifically HCV, evade NAbs. This requires teamwork and collaborations as well as a willingness to go where the data takes you.