Publications in Nature Ecology & Evolution

27/04/2022

Dr. Veronika Bernhauerova from the Department of Biophysics and Physical Chemistry was recently invited by the editors of the prestigious journal Nature Ecology & Evolution to write a commentary Adapting to vaccination (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01748-5) on the published article Effects of epistasis and recombination between vaccine-escape and virulence alleles on the dynamics of pathogen adaptation (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01709-y). Her commentary was published in the News & Views section of Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Pathogen evolution is a very topical issue that has become widely known due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New pathogens or new variants of existing pathogens that can escape immunity (natural or due to vaccination) can cause local or global epidemics. Because it is difficult to predict whether a new pathogen variant will spread and persist in a population, it is useful to study these predictions theoretically and with numerical simulations. The theoretical paper that Dr. Bernhauerová comments on provides new insights into the evolution of virulence of pathogens that simultaneously experience evolution of vaccine-induced antigenic escape. The authors of the commented article have developed a mathematical model that describes the dynamics of pathogen spread in a population that is partially protected by a vaccine. Using the model, they showed, for example, that a pathogen can become highly virulent in a population that is vaccinated with a vaccine that protects the carrier from infection, while making its ability to escape immunity induced by the vaccine more efficient. Whether this actually happens depends, among other things, on the rate at which the pathogen mutates. Mathematical models can therefore help us to identify the factors (e.g., type of vaccination) that are actively involved in the emergence of unwanted mutations, and therefore to choose an appropriate strategy to protect against infection.

Publikace v časopise Nature Ecology & Evolution

Dr. Bernhauerová worked on mathematical modelling of pathogen evolution in her PhD thesis. She is currently working on mathematical modelling of gene expression in hepatocyte spheroids within the PRIMUS project and in collaboration with the research groups Mathematical Pharmacology (headed by Assoc. Prof. Jurjen Duintjer Tebbens) and Clinical and Molecular Pharmacotherapy (headed by Prof. Petr Pavek).

Text: prof. PharmDr. Petr Pávek, Ph.D.
Graphics:
Mgr. Veronika Bernhauerová, Ph.D.

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