The Glenn Lab

Innovation with purpose: bringing next generation therapies to patients

We seek to improve the lives of patients by developing novel therapies with high impact for a range of important diseases that afflict children and adults, from viruses to cancer.  To accomplish this, we have assembled a highly diverse team of experts and trainees that work closely together in a cauldron of innovation focused on translating their science for a purpose: developing and advancing game-changing new approaches to the clinic.

An important focus of the Glenn lab is molecular virology, with a strong emphasis on translating this knowledge into novel antiviral strategies-- from target identification to clinical trials.

We have extensively studied human hepatitis viruses such as hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis D virus (HDV), which are important worldwide causes of acute and chronic liver disease. In addition, many findings are generalizable to other viruses of both major medical and biodefense importance and we thus study a broad range of viruses including respiratory viruses (e.g. influenza) and enteroviruses (e.g. rhinovirus, EV71). To date, we have helped bring 3 drugs into the clinic, with more on the way. Finally, we seek to complement this “forward” translational research with studies using samples retrieved from patients as we aim to better understand incomplete responses to therapies, to provide a molecular mechanism for improved therapeutic strategies, and develop novel diagnostics.

We pursue two types of antiviral strategies:

1) “The classic” paradigm, which involves identifying a virus-specific function, such as an enzymatic activity, and developing a drug against that function. A variation on the theme of targeting virus-specific functions is to target RNA secondary structural elements within viral genomes, as opposed to an enzyme.  Such elements can have higher evolutionary constraints on their ability to mutate in order to escape antiviral pressure.

2) A more unorthodox approach to antiviral therapy, whereby we seek to deprive the virus access to a host function upon which the virus depends.  Besides representing a paradigm different from classical antivirals, the development of resistance may be a more difficult undertaking for the targeted viruses.  This is because the target inhibited in this strategy is not under the virus’ genetic control.

Our other research focuses include exploitation of hepatic stem cells, development of a small animal model for hepatitis viruses, engineered human liver tissues, NASH and cancer.