360° Coverage : Cutting-edge tool probes lethal viruses at atomic levels

Cutting-edge tool probes lethal viruses at atomic levels

London, Feb 18 (IANS) 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.

Feb 18 2013, 3:46am CST | by

Cutting-edge tool probes lethal viruses at atomic levels
Photo Credit: Ian Gavan, Getty Images

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.

Scientists can study virus structures at intense levels of detail, and this new facility extends that capability to many viruses that have a major global impact on human and animal health.

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.

IANS

Source: IANS

 
 
 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/8" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
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 ml@i4u.com. Luigi posts regularly on LuigiMe.com about his experience running I4U.

 

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