At the conclusion of the 14th Biennial Conference of the International Association for Research on Epstein-Barr Virus and Associated Diseases, Dr Alan Rickinson gave a brief overview of the conference and identified future points of interest:
1. What happens in early primary infection? The focus here should include what cells replicate the virus. How is the switch to latency established?
2. What factors predispose to mononucleosis? Why do you get the disease in adolescence and occasionally in childhood? Is there a role for factors such as genetics, viral dose and HLA associations?
3. How does EBV get into T/NK (natural killer) cells? Are there complementary genetic changes in T/NK lymphomas?
4. What is the role of EBV in autoimmune disease? This is a new and upcoming field that he encourages newer investigators to study.
5. Can we define a vaccine to prevent infection? However, we do not know if primary infection provides immunity against re-infection (sterile immunity).
Importantly, our clinical virology program has been working on at least 2 of these areas and we plan to continue studying the pathogenesis of clinical diseases associated with EBV infection.