Dr. Yuan’s lab studies the interactions between enteric viruses and the host immune system. The lab's research interests are focused on pathogenesis and innate and adaptive immune responses induced by enteric viruses (i.e. norovirus and rotavirus) and on the development of safer and more effective vaccines against viral gastroenteritis.
One of the major research efforts of the Yuan lab is to study mechanisms of immune modulation by probiotic bacteria, prebiotics (rice bran) and human gut microbiota in rotavirus and norovirus infection and vaccination. These studies utilize wild type, gene knock-out and humanized gnotobiotic pig models of human rotavirus and norovirus infection and diseases and IPEC-J2 cell culture model of rotavirus infection.
Dr. Yuan has a long-standing interest in enteric viral vaccines. She has studied intestinal and systemic immune responses induced by various rotavirus and norovirus vaccines and their protective efficacy against the viral infections and diarrhea. These studies have included attenuated, reassortant, inactivated, recombinant protein (P2-VP8*), DNA plasmid, virus-like particle, and P particle vaccines, with different adjuvants (Alum, LT-R192G, ISCOM, MPL, chitosan, rice bran and probiotics) and immunization routes (oral, intramuscular, intranasal, intradermal by gene gun) with or without maternal immunomodulators (antibodies and cytokines). Currently, the Yuan lab is evaluating the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of an RNActive®-based VP8* rotavirus vaccine.
Another research area in the Yuan lab is to establish a reliable gnotobiotic pig model of human enterovirus 71 infection and disease, and to use the animal model to evaluate human enterovirus 71 vaccines and anti-viral drugs.
Dr. Yuan's research projects have been funded by National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health (R01AT004789); the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (R01AI089634 subcontract); PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health); Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Grand Challenges Explorations Phase I and Phase II); Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products, China; and CureVac GmbH, Germany.
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