Welcome to the home page of the Antiviral Gene Therapy Research Unit (AGTRU) of the University of the Witwatersrand.
Investigation by the AGTRU team is focused on countering viral infections that cause serious health problems in South Africa. The long term objectives of AGTRU are to
advance gene therapy for treatment of viral infections,
develop human capacity in the field through the training of young scientists,
translate the unit’s technologies into products.
Discovery of the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway has provided the means for powerful and specific silencing of genes. This led to considerable enthusiasm for advancing gene therapy for viral infections, such as are caused by persistence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). The interests of the AGTRU have been to optimise use of expressed RNAi activators to counter viral proliferation and also incorporation of these sequences into vectors that are capable of efficient delivery to infected cells. The unit has published widely on these topics.
Support and Partnerships
Research activities are generously supported by South African and International funding agencies. South African and international partnerships have been established, and these are an important contributor to the group’s resource base.
The unit currently has approximately 20 members and these include molecular biologists, clinicians and postgraduate students. There are four tenured university appointees in the unit and the director is Professor Patrick Arbuthnot. AGTRU is equipped as a modern molecular biology research laboratory and has expertise in a range of techniques. These are advanced methods of nucleic acid manipulation, gene transfer to mammalian cells, use of lipoplex and recombinant viral vectors. AGTRU is set up to investigate efficacy of antiviral compounds in vivo in murine (e.g. HBV transgenic mice) and cell culture models of viral replication.
Tel: +27 (0)11 717 1000
1 Jan Smuts Avenue
Johannesburg, South Africa