The overall purpose of our research is to identify molecules and mechanisms that viruses need to bind to and enter host cells. This is of importance to understand cell/tissue specificity, for development of viral vectors used for e.g. vaccination, and for development of antiviral drugs that prevent virus entry into target cells.
The research team studies the molecular mechanisms engaged during virus entry into host cells.
As a professor in virology, Niklas Arnberg has been been approached by media constantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Media wants to know more or less everything that we do, says Niklas and adds that he no longer has the manpower to collaborate with all the laboratories and companies that contact him.
Niklas research team studies the molecular mechanisms that lead to virus entry into host cells. A detailed understanding of this process is needed to develop antiviral drugs that can block virus entry. The lack of treatment options for COVID-19 patients is by no means unique, only a small minority of virus infections that affect us humans can be treated by antiviral drugs or prevented by vaccinations. There is a huge medical need for novel and more efficient antiviral drugs says Niklas, but this is challenging and takes time.
Knowledge about the virus entry process also helps us to understand the disease that the viruses cause, as it shows which specific cells, tissues and organs are infected.
Finally, viruses are more and more frequently used as vectors for clinical applications such as vaccines. Over the last decades Niklas research team has identified and characterized different types of adenoviruses, some of which are now considered for development as vaccine vectors by pharmaceutical companies, for prevention of infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
As the chairman of the Swedish Society for Virology, Niklas contributed to the initiation of ”Pandemifonden”. This fund will utilize donations to strengthen research in the area of virology. The aim of Pandemifonden’s support is to provide knowledge and tools needed by society and health care to combat virus-caused infections, and to be better prepared for virus-caused pandemics in the future.