Anti-viral Responses in Ageing (ARIA)
Dr Mark Wills
Institution or company
University of Cambridge
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. 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. However, in individuals whose immune system is suppressed (e.g. transplant patients), active CMV can become dangerous. By including participants with or without the virus, we would like to understand how the immune system controls the virus in healthy people. This will help with the design of effective therapies to target this persistent virus. At present there is no therapy to eliminate persistent CMV.