Feb 18 2013, 3:46am CST | by Luigi Lugmayr
London, Feb 18 — A cutting-edge technology called synchrotron light is enabling scientists to analyse lethal viruses behind AIDS, Hepatitis and flu at the atomic and molecular level, potentially opening the way to better therapies.
A synchrotron light source produces very intense pulses of light/X-rays, permitting detailed studies of objects ranging in size from human cells, through viruses down to atoms with a precision that is not possible by other means.
Such a visualisation requires specialist microscopes 10,000 times more powerful than standard lab microscopes.
Dave Stuart, professor of structural biology at Oxford and life sciences director at Diamond Light Source, UK's national synchrontron facility, one of the only two in the world, said: "Nowhere in the world can structures be so readily solved with the speed and efficiency that is now available at Diamond."
Last year, Diamond scientists determined the structure of the virus that causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which can cause severe central nervous system disease in children.
Some 1.7 million cases were reported by the Chinese ministry of health during 2010, and there is no vaccine or therapy available, according to a Diamond Light statement.
An Anglo-Chinese collaboration used the facilities at Diamond to solve the structure of the Human Enterovirus 71 (EV71), which is the root cause of the disease.
Using synchrotron light, the team was able to visualise the virus in different states and collect a series of structures, from which they were able to uncover a detailed picture of the virus's actions in sequence.
Luigi is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at email@example.com. Luigi posts regularly on LuigiMe.com about his experience running I4U.
blog comments powered by Disqus