Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are small viruses with a double-stranded circular DNA genome infecting either skin or mucosal epithelium. More than 200 different HPV types have been described to date. Most HPV infections are asymptomatic and harmless for the host organism. However, there are also tumorigenic HPVs, which are responsible for about five percent of all cancers worldwide. Nowadays, HPV is considered as one of the most prominent infectious risk factors associated with many different types of cancers, such as cervical, anogenital, and head and neck cancers. Despite the fact that vaccines are available to prevent HPV infections, they have been developed only against a small number of different HPV types and are ineffective against ongoing infections. Therefore, the HPV-related medical problems remain to stay in the foreseeable future.
HPV infection and replication are restricted to a small number of host cell types, and rely on the utilization of the specific host cell proteins. Our research group studies the mechanisms of HPV genome replication with a wider goal to propose novel therapeutic methods or targets to supress the extent of the ongoing viral infection.
In particular, we focus on: