The Large DNA Viruses research group is led by Dr Beard and studies atypical large DNA viruses that have adapted to a cytoplasmic replication cycle including the Poxviridae and Asfarviridae virus families.
Viruses of particular interest to the group include:
- Lumpy skin disease virus, Sheeppox virus and Goatpox virus. These three species comprise the Capripoxvirus genus and cause systemic disease in cattle, sheep and goats. These viruses cause significant animal and economic loss in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
- African Swine Fever virus. This virus is the only member of the Asfarviridae family and causes the fatal haemorrhagic disease known as African swine fever in pigs. There is no vaccine available to protect against this highly contagious virus.
- To understand how specialised large DNA viruses cause disease in their host, and then apply this knowledge to the development of novel tools for the control and prevention of disease.
- To work together in an inclusive, respectful and collaborative environment that supports the personal and professional development of every member, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, or disability status.
Our research focuses on three areas of large DNA virus research:
- Host immune response
- Viral evasion mechanisms
- Transmission routes
Currently funded projects include:
- Development of rationally designed live-attenuated lumpy skin disease vaccines - BBSRC responsive mode grant BB/R008833/1.
- Vector-borne transmission of lumpy skin disease virus - BBSRC responsive mode grant BB/T005173/1 in partnership with MSD Animal Health.
- DEFEND: Tackling the emergence of African swine fever and lumpy skin disease in Europe - EU H2020 research programme 773701 in partnership with 29 other consortium members including industry partners ID-VET and Zoetis.
Specialised large DNA viruses include important veterinary pathogens that are endemic in some regions of the world and emerging into new areas such as Europe and Asia, particularly lumpy skin disease and African swine fever. Our work on the fundamental biology of these viruses can be used to develop novel methods for virus control. This impact will be realised through partnership with other researchers, industry partners, government stakeholders and others. We also contribute to UK society and the economy by providing expert advice on these important diseases to policy makers in governments (UK, European and other), veterinarians in the field, and farmers.