Assessing Quality of Anti-viral Responses in Ageing – (AQUARIA)

Study code

Lead researcher
Dr Mark Wills

Study type
Participant re-contact

Institution or company
University of Cambridge

Researcher type

Speciality area

Recruitment Site


We are trying to understand in detail how the white blood cells of the immune system control a virus called Cytomegalovirus (CMV). About half of all adults in the UK have CMV, and most of them do not know that they have the virus. From time to time the virus enters the person’s saliva or other body fluids, giving the virus the opportunity to pass from one person to another. When a person acquires CMV, the virus persists in the person’s body for life and hardly ever causes any subsequent health problems, however in individuals with suppressed immune responses active CMV infection can become dangerous. The virus is kept under control by the person’s immune system, as the virus persists for life we would like to understand how this may affect the immune system as people age. By including healthy participants with or without the virus in this study, we hope to understand how the immune system controls the virus.  The work from this study may help with the design of effective therapies to target this persistent virus – at present there is no therapy to eliminate persistent CMV infection. 


30 volunteers from the Cambridge BioResource were invited and recruited for the AQUARIA study from the Cambridge BioResource volunteers. The study team recruited both healthy, younger (18- 40 years old) and older volunteers (65 – 100 years old) with or without the virus. All the study appointment occurred at the Cambridge BioResource clinic on the Cambridge biomedical Campus. 


This study is organised by Dr. Mark Wills and Dr. Sarah Jackson from the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge. This study was sponsored by Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge. 


Davies EL, Noor M, Lim EY, Houldcroft CJ, Okecha G, Atkinson C, Reeves MB, Jackson SE, Wills MR. HCMV carriage in the elderly diminishes anti-viral functionality of the adaptive immune response resulting in virus replication at peripheral sites. Front Immunol. 2022 Dec 15;13:1083230. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.1083230. PMID: 36591233; PMCID: PMC9797693.