- Molecular virology of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), hepatitis E virus (HEV), Zika virus and others.
- Viral pathogenesis and virus-cell interactions
- Mechanisms of viral interference of host innate immunity - Interferon induction and downstream signaling
- Development of effective vaccines and novel antiviral therapeutics
Yanjin Zhang, Ph.D Dr. Zhang's research interests are on viral diseases and pathogenesis. His current projects are on exploring nucleic acid-based strategies against Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. The strategy he is exploring is a new generation of antisense compounds, phosphodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PMOs). PMOs are analogs of short DNA oligomers with modified sugar and phosphate moieties in the nucleotides, resulting in highly specific binding and complete resistance to nucleases in the host. Their safety, efficacy and bioavailability suggest promising applications in the clinical arena as anti-cancer, antivirals and other applications to block target gene expression. Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is associated with several human malignancies, including Kaposi’s sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma (PEL, also called body cavity-based lymphoma (BCBL)) and multicentric Castleman’s disease (MCD). Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is the causative agent of PRRS, which is characterized by severe reproductive failure in sows, respiratory disease in young pigs and an influenza-like syndrome in grow/finish pigs. PRRS has caused heavy economic losses to the swine industry due to abortions, stillborn pigs, repeat breeding, pre-weaning and post-weaning mortality, reduced feed conversion and increased drug and labor cost, and continues to be the most economically important disease in the swine industry since it was first reported in 1987. PRRS has a worldwide distribution. Dr. Zhang's lab is also studying the virus-cell interactions to elucidate molecular pathogenesis for these viral infections. Because KSHV is the causative agent for several human malignancies, studying the tumorigenic mechanisms of KSHV is one of the focuses. Rhesus monkey rhadinovirus (RRV) is closely related to KSHV and explored as a model to study KSHV.