Even though there have been tremendous advances in the field of biomedicine over the past 25 years, infectious diseases of viral origin are still a major problem in today's society due to the serious health, social, and economic impact associated with them. In this context, it is evident that prevention of and therapy for these diseases is especially relevant in both human and animal health.
Developing DNA vaccines for rhabdovirus, using those that infect aquatic vertebrates as models, is one of our objectives. Currently, aquaculture is emerging as the only viable method for maintaining the presence of fish among the components in the human diet. However, until the aquaculture industry eradicates the problems related to losses resulting from outbreaks of infectious diseases caused by viruses, such as rhabdovirus, it will not be able to increase production levels and meet global demand. Therefore, the only viable control alternative is to develop vaccines that are effective, inexpensive, and respect the environment and consumer health. Because of this, our group strives to characterize the immune response induced by DNA vaccines using genomic (microarrays) and proteomic approaches with the aim of determining the molecular basis of the protection conferred by these vaccines and, furthermore, the optimization of the vectors commonly used in genetic immunization with the objective of eliminating from them the regulatory sequences of viral origin, which are currently impeding the use and commercialization of these vaccines despite the effectiveness shown by some of them.
Another objective is focused on the study of antivirals known as wide spectrum, such as ribavirin and mycophenolic acid, using real time PCR in order to determine the effectiveness of such antivirals as well as the stage of the virus replication cycle upon which they act.
Searching for antivirals among molecules related with the innate immune response, the first line of defense of any organism against viral infection, by currently carrying out in vivo and in vitro assays with defensin-type antimicrobial peptides to control infections caused by rhabdovirus is also an objective.
All of this seeks to learn the molecular basis that intervenes in protecting fish from viral infections, as well as the crucial stages of the infectious cycle of the viruses that cause pathologies in these organisms.
Yet another objective of ours is that of attempting to respond to the molecular mechanisms involved in the entry and replication of viruses by examining the structure, function, and interaction of structural and non-structural proteins with biomembranes. To accomplish this, the structure and localization of membrane proteins from enveloped viruses (HIV, HCV, dengue) is studied, as well as the molecular characterization of the interactions between the domains of such proteins and the specific components of the membranes. A multidisciplinary approach is used that combines spectroscopic techniques (NMR, IR, CD, fluorescence), structural bioinformatics, and molecular sweep through the use of peptide libraries.
The importance of the infections produced by the viruses means that all these processes and the proteins that regulate them are considered molecular targets with significant therapeutic interest.