Day 1 :
Stony Brook University, USA
Time : 09:20-10:20
Eckard Wimmer has received his PhD in Organic Chemistry at the University of Göttingen, Germany, is a Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. He has studied human RNA viruses for more for four decades, particularly poliovirus. Apart from numerous investigations of replication and pathogenesis, he is known for the de novo test tube chemical synthesis of poliovirus, the first organism created strictly based on information contained in the public domain. He is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Owing to known genome sequences, modern strategies of DNA synthesis have made it possible to recreate all known virus’s independent of natural templates. Synthesizing viral genomes provides a powerful tool for studying gene function and pathogenic potential of these organisms to an extent that was hitherto impossible. Using whole genome synthesis, we have recoded parts of the Dengue virus (DENV) ORFeome by changing codon pair bias (Coleman et al., 2008). Pairs of synonymous codons do not necessarily appear at their expected frequency (i.e., the frequency expected based on the frequency of individual codons). Some codon pairs are statistically overrepresented (good codon pairs) in ORFeomes, while other pairs are underrepresented (bad codon pairs). We have discovered that a genome with an abundance of bad codon pairs (called “deoptimized") kills viral proliferation, even though codon usage or protein sequences remained unchanged (no rare codons introduced). We have discovered that the protein synthesis machineries of two distinct phyla of the Animal Kingdom, insects of Arthropoda and mammals of Chordata, have evolved different Codon Pair Biases. Arboviruses (insect-born viruses) like DENV, however, must balance both biases to proliferate. We have undone the genome-encoding balance and, through computer design and chemical synthesis, specifically shifted the encoding preference away from mammals, thereby generating in a very short time vaccine candidate. These are mammalian-attenuated, grow to high titers in insect cells, to low titers in mammalian cells, have dramatically reduced LD50 in newborn mice, and induce high levels of protective antibodies. We will present evidence that the same strategy is applicable also to the generation of vaccines for the protection against ZIKA virus infection
University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy, Slovakia
Time : 10:20-11:00
Vilcek S is a Professor at University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Kosice, Slovakia. His scientific filed is genetic detection and characterization of viruses (as Pestiviruses, pig enteric viruses and others) infecting farm and free-living animals. He published around 100 scientific papers indexed by PubMed, which were highly cited (over 2100 timers in Web of Science). He is also a Member of the Editorial Board several international journals.
The family Flaviviridae, genus Pestivirus is intensively studied by many pestivirologists around world due to significant contribution of these viruses to economical loss and welfare of farm and free-living animals. Several decades ago the genus Pestivirus composed three pestiviruses: Classical swine fever virus (CSFV) infecting swine, Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) infecting cattle and Border disease virus (BDV) affecting sheep and goats. In the middle of 80s, new BVDV type has been discovered, which infected cattle in Canada and USA. To distinguish between classical BVDV and new BVDV type, the old well known BVDV was renamed to BVDV type 1 (BVDV-1) and new Pestivirus to BVDV type 2 (BVDV-2). In addition to classical Pestiviruses further Pestivirus was identified in giraffe which was called giraffe Pestivirus, Introduction of molecular-genetic methods as PCR, rapid sequencing method coupled with computer-assisted phylogenetic analysis and the next generation sequencing (NGS) to virus research led to the discovery of new Pestiviruses which are collectively called as atypical Pestiviruses. The following Pestiviruses were recently discovered belonging to this group: Pronghorn Pestivirus, Bungowannah, a Pestivirus found in swine, Ho_Bi like Pestivirus initially found as a contaminant of cell culture, later in infected cattle. It was long time believed that Pestiviruses infect Artiodactyla hosts only but further atypical Pestiviruses were identified in bat (Rhinolophus affinis) in China, which was called Bat Pestivirus, other Pestivirus in Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) in New York City Rat Pestivirus. Recently, two new Pestiviruses were identified in swine, which were called atypical porcine Pestivirus (APPV) and Linda virus
Alexandria University, Egypt
Keynote: Spatiotemporal dynamics of Chikungunya and Dengue virus transmission in the Arabian Peninsula
Time : 11:20-12:00
Gamal El Sawaf is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Medical Research Institute, Alexandria University, Egypt. He is a nationally recognized leader in infectious diseases. He was graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University in 1979. He has obtained his PhD in 1993 and his Post Doctor training course in the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (Cattedra Di Clinica Delle Malattie Infettive) University of Rome, Tor Vergata. He was appointed as the Head of Microbiology Department in 2008 and the Director of the Medical Technology Center in 2010 and finally, the Dean of MRI. His main fields of research activities are in the clinical aspects pathogenesis and therapy of HCV, HIV and HHV-8 infection and epidemiology and molecular characterization of hepatitis viruses in Egypt. He has acted as a Referee for a variety of national and international scientific journals and as a Referee of research projects of the Alexandria University and of the STDF projects. He is a Member of the American Society of Microbiology, The Egyptian Society of Microbiology and Egyptian Society of Immunologists. He is a Project Leader of several research programs on HCV, HHV and TB.
The global distribution of mosquito-borne viruses has seen considerable research attention in recent years, particularly about viruses transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. These diseases e.g. dengue (DENV), yellow fever, Chikungunya (CHIKV) and Zika, present serious public health problems, particularly in the light of recent spread events, in which each of the diseases has emerged either in new regions or in new environments. Understanding the spatio-temporal dynamics of endemic infections is of critical importance for a deeper understanding of pathogen transmission, and for the design of more efficient public health strategies. CHIKV and DENV are endemic in the Arabian Peninsula region including Yemen, and the number of reported cases has increased dramatically in the past decade. However, the spatial-temporal dynamics and the potential risk factors in transmission of these viruses have yet to be characterized. A total of 795 suspected cases of CHIKV and DENV reported at the county level between 2012 and 2013 were recruited from 6 hospital centers located in Al Hodeida Governorate in Yemen. Samples were subjected to serological, molecular biology and phylogenetic analysis. Time-series analyses, spatiotemporal cluster analyses, and spatial scan statistics were used to explore the characteristics of the CHIKV and DENV incidence in this region. Our results showed the distribution of cases for Chikungunya and Dengue virus infection in relation to time and space. Peaks were observed during the month of February, when the highest number of Chikungunya fever was observed, while the highest absolute number and proportion of Dengue fever was reported in May. A low number of cases were reported in June and January. Phylogenetic and Phylogeographic analysis showed that the Yemen isolates of CHIKV were dated back to the year 2010, whereas DENV isolates were dated back to the year 2003 Burkina Faso strains. The spatiotemporal dynamics of these viruses varied over the study period with high-risk clusters identified in southwest, southern, and middle-eastern parts of Yemen. The risk and endemicity of CHIKV and DENV outbreaks occurs mainly in tropical and subtropical regions. However, these viruses especially Dengue virus are now spreading to North America and Europe. Our study sheds light on the global spatiotemporal dynamics of these viruses in one of the countries of Arabian Peninsula that could be targeted with public health interventions to mitigate the growing threat of these viruses. This study reinforces both the need to monitor the spread of CHIKV and DENV, and to apply significant measures for vector control