Baker Institute for Animal Health
235 Hungerford Hill Road
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: (607) 256-5617
Fax: (607) 256-5608
Dr. Gerlinde Van de Walle focuses her studies on three general areas: how herpesviruses cause disease in dogs and cats, the causes of breast cancer in animals, and how stem cells might be used to treat injuries in horses. All of these studies in companion animals can also help to improve human health, and in each of these projects, Dr. Van de Walle relies on model systems that represent the fundamental facts about a disease or condition, but that lack unnecessary complexities.
To study infections with canine and feline herpesvirus (CHV & FHV), Dr. Van de Walle is developing a cornea model of infection that relies on donated tissues from dogs and cats who have died from unrelated causes, allowing her to study the eye disease in detail in the lab and try new ways of controlling these herpes infections. Many of the viruses that infect dogs and cats are closely related to viruses of humans, so studies of dog and cat viruses can benefit the health of both species. CHV and FHV are a case in point. Although they cause deadly infections in newborn animals and serious eye disease in older animals, they are alphaherpes viruses just like the one that causes cold sores in humans, so understanding how CHV/FHV infects dog/cat tissues can lead to a better understanding of human disease and potentially to new antiviral therapies.
To model breast cancer in the lab, Dr. Van de Walle uses breast stem cells taken from dogs and horses to study the ways tumors develop – or don’t develop. Although dogs and cats are quite susceptible to breast cancer, the condition is incredibly rare in horses, sheep, and cows, so the differences in their breast tissues may reveal new ways of preventing or controlling cancer. Mammary stem cells may hold the key: as the cells that create new breast tissue, many now scientists suspect they are also the source of breast tumors. Dr. Van de Walle has grown these stem cells in the lab to compare how dog cells and horse cells differ, and the study has revealed that differences in the substances these cells release may well affect tumor formation. Future work will look more closely at these substances to identify specific factors that suppress tumor formation in horses.
Stem cells are also at the heart of Dr. Van de Walle’s work with race horse healing. Her lab is investigating the use of mesenchymal stem cells to heal important injuries in racehorses, a booming medical business built around promising techniques and products that haven’t actually been proven to help these hardworking animals. Using cells grown in the lab, Dr. Van de Walle models the process of healing in horse tissue, testing whether stem cells or materials secreted by stem cells can help the process along. Insights about stem cells learned from these models could illuminate new and better ways to heal skin wounds and treat internal injuries in horses and in humans.
1. Borena BM, Bussche L, Burvenich C, Duchateau L, Van de Walle GR. (2013). Mammary stem cell research in veterinary science: an update. Stem Cells and Development, 22: 1743-1751.
2. Spaas JH, DJ Guest, Van de Walle GR (2012). Tendon regeneration in human and equine athletes: ubi sumus-quo vadimus? Sports Medicine, 42: 871-890. Abstract.
3. Van Opdenbosch N, Favoreel H, Van de Walle GR (2012). Histone modifications in herpesvirus infections. Invited Review. Biology of the Cell, 104: 139-164. Abstract.
4. Van de Walle GR, Cox E, Nauwynck HJ, Favoreel HW (2009). The role of dendritic cells in alphaherpesvirus infections: archetypes and paradigms. Reviews in Medical Virology, 19: 338-358. Abstract.
5. Van de Walle GR, Jarosinski KW, Osterrieder N (2008). Alpaherpesviruses and chemokines: a pas de deux not yet brought to perfection. Journal of Virology 82, 6090-6097.
6. De Schauwer C, Goossens K, Piepers S, Hoogewijs MH, Govaere JLJ, Smits K, Meyer E, Van Soom A, Van de Walle GR (2014). Characterization and profiling of immunomodulatory genes of equine mesenchymal stromal cells from non-invasive sources. Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 5: 6.
7. Spaas JH, Chiers K, Bussche L, Burvenich C, Van de Walle GR (2012). Epithelial stem/progenitor cells in non-lactating versus lactating equine mammary gland. Stem Cells and Development, 21: 3055-3067.
8. Spaas JH, De Schauwer C, Cornillie P, Meyer E, Van Soom A, Van de Walle GR. (2012). Culture and characterization of equine peripheral blood mesenchymal stromal cells. Veterinary Journal, 195: 107-113.
9. Ma G, Feineis S, Osterrieder N, Van de Walle GR (2012). Identification and characterization of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) pUL56 and its role in virus-induced downregulation of MHC class I. Journal of Virology, 86: 3554-3563.
10. Van de Walle GR, Goupil R, Wishon C, Damiani A, Perkins GA. Osterrieder N. (2009). A SNP in herpesvirus DNA polymerase is sufficient to cause lethal neurological disease. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 200: 20-25. Abstract.
11. Van de Walle GR, May ML, Sukhumavasi W, Von Einem J, Osterrieder N (2007). Herpesvirus chemokine-binding glycoprotein G (gG) efficiently inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro and in vivo. Journal of Immunology 179, 4161-4169.
12. Van de Walle GR, Schoolmeester A, Iserbyt B, Cosemans JMEM, Heemskerk JWM, Hoylaerts M, Nurden A, Vanhoorelbeke K, Deckmyn H (2007). Activation of aIIbb3 is a sufficient but also an imperative prerequisite for activation of a2b1 on platelets. Blood 109, 595-602.
13. Van de Walle GR, Vanhoorelbeke K, Mayer ZS, Illyés E, Baert J, Pareyn I, Deckmyn H (2005). Two different functional active conformations of the integrin a2b1, depending on activation condition and cell type. Journal of Biological Chemistry 280, 36873-36882. Abstract.
Links and abstracts for all of Dr. Van de Walle’s publications can be found at PubMed.