Madeeha Afzal | Containment Level 3 Postdoctoral Researcher
Pubmed publications

I joined the lab in December 2022, to work on a major collaborative research programme, funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), for development of a mosaic nanoparticle vaccine for SARS-like beta coronaviruses. I am involved in the assessment of the post-vaccination responses, generated by immunisation of the candidate vaccines. My work mainly includes testing the preclinical and the clinical samples by a robust micro-neutralisation assay against Sars-CoV-2 variants. As the Sars-CoV-2 virus continuously evolves, the counter measures also need to be updated. This necessitates development of tools for quick analysis of emerging variants. The reverse genetics system can be used to rapidly engineer viruses with desired mutations to study the virus in vitro and in vivo. Primary focus of my current research is on generating the emerging variants of Sars-CoV-2 by Circular Polymerase Extension Reaction (CPER) reverse genetics system. I am using this tool to evaluate the vaccine efficacy for the emerging and existing variants, and flag the mutations causing immune escape. Reverse genetic engineered viruses are also used to find out if a mutation can cause resistance to anti-viral drugs and therapeutic MAbs, nanobodies or aptamers etc. Engineered viruses can also be useful in studying the function of viral enzymes and other non-structural proteins.

Apart from research, I enjoy reading books, and meeting new people.

CPER generated Sars-Cov-2 virus produces visible cytopathic effects on 4th day post-coculture.