Portrait of  Cecilia Di Genova

Cecilia Di Genova

Research Student

About

Research topic: Development and application of a novel system for investigation of equine herpesvirus infections and immune responses utilizing viral pseudotyping

Qualifications: 

2014 - BSc in Animal Science and Technology, Universitá di Pisa
2017 - MSc in Animal Biotechnologies, Universitá di Bologna

Scholarships: 

2013 - Erasmus placement at Moredun Research Institute (Scotland,UK)
2016 - Universitá di Bologna travel grant 'Research project abroad 2016' at AgResearch (Hamilton, New Zealand)

Research interests

Equine herpesviruses (EHVs) are enveloped DNA viruses infecting mainly members of the Equidae family and also members of other taxa. EHVs primarily causing respiratory disease, however EHV 1 (EHV-1) can produce cases of a neurological disease, abortion and neonatal death, sometimes as regional outbreaks. Thus these viruses represent a welfare issue for the equine industry and scientific focus for researchers.  EHV-1 presents a complex array of 12 glycoproteins on its surface envelope, but it is unclear which ones are important for virus cell entry and the role of each in host immune response. In order to investigate the contribution of these glycoproteins, pseudotype viruses (PVs) could provide a perfect study tool. A recent study successfully described the first functional herpesvirus pseudotype, bearing four glycoproteins gB, gD, gH and gL from human Herpes simplex 1.  Our study is to attempt pseudotyping of EHV-1. We have employed homologous glycoproteins of EHV-1 in lentivirus PV generation, using different mammalian cells (e.g. epithelial, dermal, CNS) as transduction targets. The glycoprotein sequences obtained from an EHV-1 strain isolated from organs of aborted foetus during a significant outbreak in Normandy (France) in 2010. Future work will focus on the development of a PV assay for detection of neutralising antibodies in naturally infected horses for diagnostics and for vaccine evaluation.

Supervision

Supervisors: Dr Simon Scott and Dr Nigel Temperman

Research Group: Biological Sciences 

Professional

Publications: 

Laible G., Wagner S., Wei J., Brophy B., Cole S., Di Genova C. and Bi Y. "Improving milk for human consumption through genetic engineering technologies". National Institutes of Bioscience Journal 2016, Vol 1.