Lars Erik Larsen
Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen
Influenza A virus is a severe pathogen of human and animals, which continues to kill millions of people. There is a constant exchange of influenza viruses between human and pigs, which lead to new viruses with pandemic potential. Pigs are regarded as a melting pot for new influenza virus, and the most recent pandemic in 2009 was caused by a swine virus. Denmark produces more than 30 million pigs yearly, and thousands of people are in daily close contact with swine. This makes Denmark a hotspot for evolution of new influenza viruses, and provides a perfect setting for the study of the exchange of viruses.
This project will combine leading researchers with unique access to influenza isolates, laboratory techniques and data. Human and animal viruses will be characterized, with the aim of identifying both viral and host factors needed to cross the species barrier. The project outputs are groundbreaking new tools for prevention of future influenza pandemics and design of improved vaccines.