My name is Danny Noack and I am one of the Viruskenner Coaches this year. I studied Biomedical Sciences in Nijmegen and Utrecht. I am currently doing my PhD research project at the Department of Viroscience at Erasmus MC, Rotterdam. My PhD research is on the tropism of hantaviruses.
Hantaviruses are (mostly) rodent-borne viruses that do not cause disease in rodents, but can cause severe disease in humans. Humans can get infected through (in)direct contact with rodent urine, saliva or feces. Once infected, humans can develop hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) or hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) depending on the causative virus. Since hantavirus infections are relatively rare, much remains to be learned about these viruses. For example, we know that humans can get infected if they inhale aerosolized hantavirus particles. These particles than go in the respiratory tract. After a while, it seems that hantaviruses can be found in cells of the blood vessels of multiple organs in patients. But what happened after inhalation of these viruses? How were these viruses able to go to blood vessels of different organs? If they are in blood vessels of different organs, why do we mostly see either kidney (HFRS) or lung (HCPS) issues in patients? Lastly, which events happened that lead to disease in humans while rodents seem unaffected by these viruses? All these research questions are on the topic of tropism and I would like to aid as much as possible in answering these questions the coming years.
Please be aware that besides hantaviruses, rodents are also able to transmit other zoonotic viruses with Lassa Fever virus being the most well-known. And with climate change contributing to growing rodent-populations, it is of vital importance that we learn more about rodent-borne viruses.
I wish you all best of luck learning more about this fascinating world of infectious diseases.