Virus-Host Interactions (ViHIT)


Principal Investigator: Ester Ballana Guix


Our research focus is the identification and study of host cofactors in viral infections with a view to developing new therapies targeting virus-host protein interactions. Our group is currently working on two main research lines:

1. Identification of new cellular factors in viral infections.
The aim is to characterize interactions between HIV-1 and the host cell at different stages of virus replication, focusing especially on describing cell proliferation mechanisms associated with HIV-1 replication capacity in order to identify cell targets that affect cell cycle progression and HIV+ cell proliferation. Our group is currently working on a set of cellular factors at different stages of development, ranging from identification and validation of new targets to the monitoring of drugs approved for treatment. Once validated, these cellular factors potentially become targets for the development of new antiviral therapies.

Since April 2020, our group has also focused on understanding SARS-CoV-2 infection and its associated pathogenesis. A method for the quantification of SARS-CoV-2 viral load in COVID-19 patients has been developed. Work has also been ongoing on elucidating the role of the innate immune response in COVID-19 pathogenesis and deciphering and characterizing early events that might determine infection outcomes, with particular interest in cellular proteins that might be important for the development of new therapeutic strategies against viral infections.

2. Innate immune function in viral infections and cancer.
The mechanisms that control the interface between the metabolism of nucleic acids and their detection by the immune system determine the onset and treatment of diseases like viral infections and cancer. Our group is currently working on the development and validation of SAMHD1 as a biomarker of therapeutic response to the nucleoside analogues currently used to treat viral infections and cancer. It is also working on describing and characterizing key cellular targets that determine the antiviral and antitumoral immune response, with a particular emphasis on identifying novel immunotherapeutic strategies.

Keywords: pathogenesis, immunity, antiviral response, antiviral, resistance, cure
Principal Investigator

Ester Ballana Guix

Ester Ballana graduated in Biology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) in 2001. She completed a health and life sciences PhD under the supervision of Dr. Xavier Estivill at the Barcelona-based Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in May 2007, with a thesis on the subject of the...


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Irsi Caixa

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