Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research


International team wins Wellcome Trust collaborative award

29 January 2019

A team comprising Greg Towers (I&I, UCL), David Selwood (WIBR, UCL), Leo James (LCMB, Cambridge), and Till Boecking and David Jacques (UNSW, Australia) have won a major collaborative award to study pandemic HIV.

Capsid cofactor interactions. A new Collaborative grant from the Wellcome Trust

What is special about pandemic HIV-1? How capsid cofactor interactions regulate DNA synthesis, innate immune detection and pandemic potential

There are twelve different types of HIV but just one has caused almost all 87 million infections. We aim to find out what is special about this common variant. We focus on the viral capsid, the core of the virus that cloaks HIV from immune detection by the infected cell. Cloaking requires recruitment of host proteins called cofactors that attach to the outside of the capsid. We will ask “What are cofactors doing to the virus and how does this differ between common and rare HIV?

Our interdisciplinary approach uniquely combines structural biology, infection experiments and examination of single viruses using microscopes. Ideas developed in one system can be tested in another providing unprecedented potential for understanding how HIV works and how the common virus is different. We will use this knowledge to develop drugs that uncloak the virus and empower our natural immune response, a completely new therapeutic approach.


Professor David Selwood
Professor of Biological and Medicinal Chemistry
Wing 1.3
Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research 
UCL Crucform Building
London WC1E 6BT

Professor Greg Towers
Professor of Molecular Virology
Wing 3.3
Infection and Immunity
UCL Cruciform Building
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT