Viruses control the immune response.

Lead researcher

Dr Genevieve Pepin

Main finding

Viral infection are very diverse in their outcome. Some viruses can change the fate of the infected cells and cause the cells to acquire phenotype leading to cancer. These viruses such as HPV are named oncoviruses. The change of behaviour of the infected cells is mediated by viral genes named oncogenes. We have discovered that some viral oncogenes have the capacity to favour an inflammatory response when the cell is subjected to chemotherapeutic agents (chemicals that damage the DNA of cell and are used to kill tumour cells in cancer treatment). The inflammatory response is critical for our immune system to kill the tumour cells.


Centre for Innate Immunity & Infectious Diseases

Research group

Nucleic Acids and Innate Immunity


Mrs Charlotte Nejad
Dr Jonathan Ferrand
Dr Belinda Thomas
Mr James Stunden
Dr Elaine Sanij
Dr Cameron Stewart
Dr Jason Cain
Prof Philip Bardin
Prof Bryan Williams
Dr Michael Gantier
Dr Chwan-hong Foo

Journal and article title

Most surprising

Currently, it is believed that any damage to DNA will cause an inflammatory response independently of the cellular context. Our work shows that it is not the case and we need to take into account this context to predict the outcome of the use of these chemicals.

Future implications

Understanding how chemotherapeutic agents are working is a pre-requisite in the design and the use of these chemicals in our fight against cancer.

Disease/health impact