Viruses represent the most abundant class of biological entities on earth and infect all types of cellular life. They can hijack nearly every function of a cell and their constant battle with the host organism is recognized as a major driver of evolution.
In recent years, we began to realize the enormous diversity of virus-host interactions and the sophistication of antiviral strategies. Metagenomics and high-throughput sequencing have propelled our search for new viruses. The discovery of giant viruses with complex genomes and metabolic capabilities is currently challenging our view of the tree of life.
While many viruses are detrimental for the given host, the features of the viral life cycle can often be repurposed for applications in biotechnology and medicine. For example, viral vectors are frequently utilized to deliver DNA in gene therapy or genetic engineering approaches. Viruses infecting pathogenic bacteria have therapeutic potential.
This approach, termed phage therapy, constitutes an alternative to antibiotics treatment for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections in a hospital environment.
At the SYNMIKRO Symposium “World of Viruses in Nature, Biotechnology and Medicine”, leading scientists from academia and industry will come together to highlight recent breakthroughs and trends in virus research, and discuss how this research can lead to improvements in healthcare and industrial processes.