The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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


Research Projects

Project: SARS-CoV-2 escape from neutralising antibody control

Purcell Group

Patients recovering from SARS-CoV-2 infection typically develop neutralising antibody (NAb) that blocks viral infection in vitro. Prophylactic COVID-19 vaccines aim to elicit NAb at the respiratory mucosa to block virus transmission in the community. Several vaccine candidates have entered human trial, and with increasing numbers of immune competent individuals, virus mutations that foster NAb escape may be expected. This project will assess SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein mutations that accumulate in the community for any alteration in transmission efficacy or escape from NAb. These studies will seek biological measurements to better interpret the selective pressures on viral Spike protein mutations in circulation and assist in defining effective vaccine-induced protective antibody responses.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Professor Damian Purcell

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Youry Kim

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Purcell Group

5 vacancies

Viral Infectious Diseases
Host Pathogens Interactions
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Global Health
Indigenous Health
Translational and Clinical Research

Professor Damian Purcell’s group investigates the HIV-1 and HTLV-1 human retroviruses that cause AIDS, leukaemia and inflammatory pathogenesis respectively. We study their genetic structure and gene expression with a focus on defining the mechanisms that control viral persistence and pathogenesis. We examine the molecular interplay of viral and host factors during viral infection and the innate and adaptive immune responses to viral infection. We use these molecular insights to develop new antiviral and curative therapeutics, preventive prophylactic vaccines and passive antibody microbicides and therapeutics. Some of these patented discoveries have been commercialised and we are assisting with clinical trials.

Purcell Group Current Projects