The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: Assessment of enterovirus antivirals

Anderson Group

The vast majority of people infected with enteroviruses, approximately 90%, are asymptomatic. However, the other 10% of infections result in a wide range of symptoms including fever, mild respiratory symptoms, flu-like illness, fever with a rash, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Furthermore, if enteroviruses infect the central nervous system, they can cause serious illness including paralysis of one or more limbs. Poliomyelitis is caused by poliovirus and the non-polio enteroviruses (NPEVs) enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) and enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) cause hand, foot and mouth disease and respiratory infections, respectively, but both NPEVs have also been associated with outbreaks of neurological illness resembling poliomyelitis.

As enteroviruses are common and infection is often asymptomatic, the extent of transmission within the general population is masked. Enteroviruses replicate in the gastrointestinal or respiratory tract from where they can disseminate to cause a wide range of clinical symptoms of varying severity. Neonates and children less than five years old are most at risk of enterovirus infection. Enterovirus infected newborns can develop a severe, generalized illness similar to sepsis and the virus can damage parts of many organs and tissues, causing multiple organ failure.

There is an urgent need for antiviral therapy targeting poliovirus and NPEVs. For example, the availability of an effective antiviral treatment could be utilised by infected pregnant women, to prevent infection in utero. A number of drugs targeting different phases of the enterovirus life cycle have been tested with limited success. A recent report of chronic poliovirus infection being cleared by treatment with Remdesivir, used to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection, warrants further investigation of the efficacy of the antiviral against NPEVs. 

In this project, NPEVs of public health concern including EV-A71, EV-D68 and echovirus 11 will be tested in vitro for their sensitivity to treatment with Remdesivir and other antivirals. Skills learned throughout the project include cell culture, virus isolation, PCR, next generation sequencing, experience in a containment laboratory and concepts of viral replication. 

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Dr Danielle Anderson

Project Co-supervisor

A/ProfBruce Thorley

Project availability

Anderson Group

1 vacancies

Viral Infectious Diseases
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research
Global Health
Public Health

The Anderson/Thorley Groups at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory are focussed on viral pathogenesis, identification and development of antivirals for clinically relevant enteroviruses. 

Anderson Group Current Projects