Andres Rivera Ruiz

Mentor: Wobus
Microbiology & Immunology

Areas of Interest

Human astroviruses (HAstVs) are positive-sense single-stranded RNA enteric viruses responsible for gastroenteritis cases all around the world, especially in children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people. HAstVs can be categorized into two groups: classical and novel. Classical HAstVs have been successfully linked to gastroenteritis cases in vulnerable populations They also seem to be prevalent in the population, as studies have shown that ~90% of children have been exposed to classical HAstVs by the age of five. However, novel HAstVs (VA and MLB clades) have not been conclusively linked to gastrointestinal disease, but instead to neurological diseases, most of them fatal. Despite the significant burden of HAstVs in the populations mentioned above and recent advances in basic astrovirus pathogenesis research, considerable knowledge gaps remain, and no effective antivirals or vaccine candidates have been developed as a result. My goal at the Wobus lab is to identify viral and host factors involved in astrovirus pathogenesis that could be targeted for the development of antiviral treatments and/or vaccines. I aim to study this by using human-derived intestinal organoids (“mini guts”), genome editing of these organoids, reverse genetics systems of different astrovirus strains and other molecular biology techniques.