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Uninfected cells (left) and infected cells (right). The bright dots are Hira proteins concentrating to fight the viral infection.

This work has potential to drastically increase our understanding of how viruses evade host cellular responses.
Dr Taranjit Singh Rai

Research headed-up by UWS academic, Dr Taranjit Singh Rai has discovered that the protein, HIRA has anti-virus properties.

Three years ago Dr Taranjit Singh Rai and colleagues at the Beatson cancer institute and Glasgow University reported that HIRA could suppress the uncontrolled division of cells that causes cancer. Following further research of this protein the team made a second breakthrough; that HIRA is also an anti-virus protein. Now the fight is on to fully understand how it works in the hope of turning the laboratory research into a treatment.

Dr Rai said “I am happy and proud to lead and be part of such exciting, multi-institution and high impact work. This work has potential to drastically increase our understanding of how viruses evade host cellular responses. What we have discovered is that a protein that was thought to play a pivotal role in cancer can also act as a gatekeeper to prevent viral infections. This has profound implications in the way we think of viral infections and may lead to better treatments one day.”

Professor Ehsan Mesbahi, UWS Vice-Principal & Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic), said: “This is a hugely important research project and we are extremely proud of the work Taranjit and his team is carrying out in this field." Professor Mesbahi continued:

The discovery of an anti-virus protein is significant and it could have a fundamental role to play in combating both viruses and cancer.
Professor Ehsan Mesbahi
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