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Albright faculty/student team publishes poxvirus findings

Completing a multi-year research project alongside four undergraduate students, Albright College Associate Professor of Biology, Adam Hersperger, Ph.D., published a scholarly paper on epidermal growth factors of poxviruses in in Virology (Volume 564). Scholarly papers published in Virology provide advances to the understanding of virus biology.

The work of Hersperger and students Kaylyn Haan ’19, Rebecca Morgis ’19, Julie Schrey ’21 and Rose Zimmerman ’19, was funded by the Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE) program, which provides internal grants at Albright College for faculty/student collaborations, and through funds budgeted to the Albright College Biology Department.

Though cultured cell research and the use of fluorescence microscopy, the Hersperger team demonstrates that ectromelia growth factor can act as a bona fide growth factor — stimulating cell migration and wound healing.

Hersperger headshot
Adam Hersperger, Ph.D.

“This information may prove to be of clinical relevance since much attention has been paid on increasing the rate and efficiency of wound healing in patients,” says Hersperger. “For example, hydrogels laced with various growth factors are being studied for the treatment of cutaneous wounds.”

Many poxviruses produce proteins that are related to epidermal growth factor. Prior genome sequencing of ectromelia virus (mousepox virus) revealed a gene predicted to produce a protein with homology to epidermal growth factor, referred to as ectromelia growth factor.

“Understanding that ectromelia growth factor can act as a mitogen expands our knowledge about the function of poxviral growth factor orthologs,” says Hersperger. “Future work will examine the importance of ectromelia growth factor to the replication and pathogenesis of poxviruses in living organisms.”

An Albright class of 2019 graduate, Morgis is now a medical student at Penn State Hershey School of Medicine. Haan (class of 2019) is the United Kingdom, enrolled in Royal Veterinary College, University of London, and Schrey (class of 2021) is a research laboratory technician.

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