Åke Lundkvists research group

Zoonosis Science Center
 

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(Rodent field work, Uppsala, October 2014. Per Ericsson, Tanja Strand, Åke Lundkvist, Jenny Verner-Carlsson, Mare Löhmus Sundström and Olivia Borg)

Viral Zoonoses

Viruses have been with us since ancient times. They will also be our “companions” in the future, for as we have been able to defeat some diseases, new ones emerge or old ones re-emerge. Most human infections are zoonotic, meaning that they occur mainly in animals but also have the capacity to cross species-boundaries and attack humans.

Our research is based on an interdisciplinary approach between molecular virology, immunology, genetics, molecular epidemiology and diagnostic aspects of zoonoses, especially emerging zoonotic viruses. We are at present focusing on the following agents: hantaviruses, flaviviruses (TBE, Dengue and West Nile viruses), Sindbis virus, Rift Valley fever virus, and avian influenza virus.

Our hantavirus program has generated important results concerning novel animal models (monkey and rodents), vaccine candidates, virus-host interactions, pathogenesis, apoptosis and innate immunity. We have also found valuable results on how, and under which circumstances, various Bunyaviruses are transmitted and survive outside their vectors and hosts. The recent awareness of Seoul hantavirus present in Swedish pet rats made us initiate a broad investigation of rats as carrier of various microorganisms pathogenic to man. We have developed a number of new methods for identification and characterization of genetic markers responsible for infectivity/pathogenicity and new techniques for studies on how hantaviruses infect their rodent reservoirs.

Our research on TBE virus has focused on molecular epidemiology of the virus in the Nordic countries and in the Baltic states. The recent increase of clinical cases in Sweden encouraged us to investigate the mechanisms behind and to create hypotheses explaining such emergence. The different virulence and pathogenesis of the three distinct substrains of TBEV (Western, Siberian and Far Eastern) has recently been investigated and confirmed in a novel bank vole model.

Dengue virus constitutes of four quite distinct virus types, dengue 1-4. Unique clinical virus strains from Cambodia, isolated from patients suffering of classical dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, respectively, have been characterized for phenotypic and genotypic differences in vitro and in vivo.

The awareness of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus repeatedly infecting man prompted us to establish efficient surveillance systems based on wild birds, and to initiate basic research aiming for a better understanding of the transmission and dramatic changes in virulence. A similar project on West Nile virus has recently been initiated.

(Rodent dissection, Zoonotic Laboratory, IMBIM, October 2014. Tanja Strand, Jenny Verner-Carlsson and Mare Löhmus Sundström. Photo: Per Eriksson)

Employees (faculty, staff and other members)

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