Internship results MMD student contribute to Nature paper

Feng Qian

Qian Feng, a former student from the NCMLS MSc programme "Molecular Mechanisms of Disease" (MMD), is co-author on a Nature publication.

As part of her MMD studies, Qian Feng performed an internship in the lab of Prof. Charlie Rice (Rockefeller University, New York), who is the world-leading scientist in Hepatitis C virus (HCV) research. HCV is a major cause of acute hepatitis and chronic infections can lead to end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. The WHO estimates that 130-170 million people are chronically infected worldwide and there are 3-4 million new cases each year. There are no vaccines available for HCV infection and antiviral treatment is only partially effective. Research on new therapeutic means is has been severely hampered by the lack of a small animal model. In this paper, we present for the first time an (genetically humanized) immunocompetent rodent model where the initial steps of HCV replication can be recapitulated. Using this model, we also show that immunization with a recombinant vaccinia virus vector could induce humoral immunity and partially protect the animal against challenge with homologous as well as heterologous genotypes. Feng worked on this project during its early phase. She contributed to the search of genetic factors required to enable HCV replication in mice, and helped setup systems of selecting and detecting HCV replication in vivo.

Qian Feng has performed three Virological internships, each of which contributed to a high-impact publication (Nature, PLoS Pathogens, Journal of Virology). After graduating summa cum laude from the MSc MMD, she succeeded in obtaining a personal NWO Mosaic grant to perform her PhD studies on "innate antiviral responses and viral evasion mechanisms" in the lab of Frank van Kuppeveld (dept. Medical Microbiology, section of Virology).

A genetically humanized mouse model for hepatitis C virus infection. Marcus Dorner , Joshua Horwitz , Justin Robbins , Walter Barry , Qian Feng , Kathy Mu , Christopher Jones , John Schoggins , Maria Teresa Catanese , Dennis Burton , Mansun Law , Charles Rice, Alexander Ploss. Nature, June 9, Volume 474, Number 7350.

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