Molecular virology

Molecular virology

Our focus is on the molecular mechanisms associated with diseases caused by viruses. This knowledge is used in the development of new control strategies. We put special emphasis on technologies that make it possible to construct genetically engineered viruses. 

Viral diseases have major impact on the health of animals and humans and give rise to serious problems worldwide. The most serious livestock diseases are caused by RNA viruses including classical swine fever virus which poses a constant threat to animal welfare and livestock production in Europe. Classical swine fever virus, like other RNA viruses, has a high mutation rate, and thus an ability to constantly adapt to its environment in order to ensure its own proliferation and survival.

Genetically engineered viruses

We do research on virus virulence (its ability to cause disease) and the underlying molecular mechanisms in order to develop new control strategies. In collaboration with German researchers we have developed an advanced technology to create new infectious cDNA clones from virus strains of different virulence. With this technology we have cloned both high-virulence and low-virulence viruses.

This technique gives us a unique opportunity to quickly and efficiently create engineered viruses with different virulence that can be used for in-depth studies of how the virus adapts and interacts with the host cell / host animal. This enables us to identify key molecular mechanisms as well as obtain knowledge about the factors important for virulence and pathogenicity.

Swine fever and rabies

Our approach also allows us to engineer vaccine viruses with new desired properties. For instance, we have developed new DIVA-vaccines against classical swine fever, which provides total protection against the disease while allowing animals to be tested disease-free in a vaccinated population.

An important feature of our research is the use of NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) for detailed analysis of virus populations in the host animal. This also includes studies of rabies virus, where viruses isolated from Greenland foxes are tested in order to elucidate how the rabies virus circulates in a population in which rabies is endemic.

Our research contributes with important new knowledge that can be used directly in the development of new vaccines, antiviral therapies, and of future control strategies against serious infectious animal diseases.

Senior Researcher

Thomas Bruun Rasmussen
DTU Vet
+45 35 88 78 50