Viral Immunology Laboratory


 Editor de Conteúdo

Lab Supervisor
Renato Mancini Astray –

Lab Researchers​
Dr. Carlos Augusto Pereira – scientific leadership
Dra. Soraia Attie Calil Jorge
Dra. Maria Heloísa Tsuhako

general objective of the unit

The Viral Immunology Laboratory's (LIV) objective is the execution of research projects in the areas of immunology and biotechnology applied to the development of vaccines and focused on the understanding of resistance and pathological mechanisms caused by viruses.


background and contributions

Created in 1985 with the arrival of the researcher Dr. Carlos Augusto Pereira as scientific leader, the work developed at the LIV was fundamental for the introduction of the high density cultivation of cells on microcarriers within the framework human rabies vaccine production at Instituto Butantan.

Historically, the LIV has focused its activity on the proposal of new methodologies for the elaboration of a recombinant vaccine against rabies, having used some approaches including the use of insect and mammal cells, and recombinant viral vectors. These same approaches are being used in studies destined for the development of a diagnostic method and of a vaccine against infection by the Mayaro virus.

Other viruses that have also already been the target of the laboratory's research: hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses (vaccine development) and murine hepatitis virus type 3, MHV-3 and MHV-A59 (resistance mechanisms and pathology).

Many graduate students (masters and Ph.D.) who now work in a vast array of companies, universities and institutions both in Brazil and abroad contributed to the growth and performance of the LIV.

Since 1985, several scientific and technical studies have been published in broadly circulated magazines, various local and international courses and meetings (6 ICRO-UNESCO courses and 1 Seminario Latino Americano de Tecnologia de Cultivos Celulares) have been organized and multiple international scientific collaborations have been implemented through CNPq, CAPES and FAPESP accords.


research areas

I - Biotechnology for mammalian and insect cell cultures in bioreactors

Through various research projects, study the use of mammalian (BHK-21, HEK-293, HuH-7, CHO, VERO, etc.)  and insect (S2, Sf9) cells for the production of biotechnological products. The focus has been on evaluating the growth, metabolism and expression of the recombinant protein by these cells in different culture media, particularly in media without the addition of bovine fetal serum, from a small scale to 10L reactors. The recombinant expression has been promoted both in stable and transient ways, particularly involving the use of celular infection by recombinant viruses. More recently, recombinant protein purification and analysis techniques have been advanced.

II - Viral vectors for biotechnology and vaccination applications.

The use of viral vectors for obtaining recombinant proteins is one of the most studied strategies in the world. Semliki Forest Virus (SFV), a viral vector used in various research projects carried out in the lab, is capable of infecting a wide range of animal and insect cells. The vector has also already been tested for immunizing mice against rabies, having obtained good results. Besides SFV, the team has worked with virus-like particle (VLP) production systems with the intention of obtaining viral vaccines using this modern technology.


III - Involvement of redox processes in experimental murine coronavirus infection models

Studies of pathological processes using in vivo biological systems of murine hepatitis and multiple sclerosis. These illnesses are elicited by experimental infections in SPF mice with the murine hepatitis virus, strains MHV-3 (hepatotropic) and MHV-A59 (neurotropic). Research on the effect of antioxidants and inflammatory mediators in viral proliferation is carried out in a parallel cellular system. In summary, greater clarification on the role of nitric oxide and its antioxidant derivatives play in the pathophysiological phenomena related to the experimental models is being sought with the aim of contributing new therapeutic alternatives.


reference publications for each research area

I - Moraes AM, Jorge SAC, Astray RM, Suazo CAT, Calderón Riquelmec CE, Augusto EFP, Tonso A, Pamboukian MM, Piccoli RAM, Barral MF, Pereira CA. Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells for expression of heterologous genes: From gene cloning to bioprocess development. Biotechnology Advances 2012, 30:613–628

II - Astray RM, Ventini DC, Boldorini VLL, Silva FG, Rocca MP, Pereira CA. Rabies virus glycoprotein and immune response pattern using recombinant protein or recombinant RNA viral vectors. Vaccine, 2014, 32:2839-2832.

III -Tsuhako MH, Augusto O, Linares E, Chadi G, Giorgio S, Pereira CA. Tempol ameliorates murine viral encephalomyelitis by preserving the blood-brain barrier, reducing viral load, and lessening inflammation. FreeRadicBiolMed 2010, 48(5):704-12.