Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Diamond sheds light on basic building blocks of life

Date:
February 17, 2013
Source:
Diamond Light Source
Summary:
The UK's national synchrotron facility, Diamond Light Source, is now the first and only place in Europe where pathogens requiring Containment Level 3 – including serious viruses such as those responsible for AIDS, Hepatitis and some types of flu – can be analyzed at atomic and molecular level using synchrotron light. Studying pathogens in this way has the potential to open up new paths for the development of therapeutic treatments and vaccines.

Electron density map of EV71
Credit: Image courtesy of Diamond Light Source

The UK's national synchrotron facility, Diamond Light Source, is now the first and only place in Europe where pathogens requiring Containment Level 3 -- including serious viruses such as those responsible for AIDS, Hepatitis and some types of flu -- can be analysed at atomic and molecular level using synchrotron light. This special light allows scientists to 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. Studying pathogens in this way has the potential to open up new paths for the development of therapeutic treatments and vaccines.

Presenting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS 2013) in Boston on the latest virus work undertaken at Diamond, Prof Dave Stuart -- Life Sciences Director at Diamond Light Source and Professor of Structural Biology at Oxford University -- launches the new lab, Crystal, which will help scientists delve into the inner workings of pathogens and uncover the mechanisms of infection. Prof. Stuart comments: Diamond already has a strong track record of studying viruses at lower levels of containment. In 2012, scientists determined the structure of the virus that causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which can cause severe central nervous system disease in children and poses serious public health threats across the Asia-Pacific region. Some 1.7 million cases were reported by the Chinese Ministry of Health during 2010, and there is no vaccine or therapy available.

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 were 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 -- rather than being a rigid object, the virus appears to actually "breathe." Such visualisation requires specialist microscopes ten thousand times more powerful than standard laboratory microscopes.

This achievement creates new opportunities for therapies being developed. Prof Stuart explains: "Together with our Chinese Colleagues, we have now uncovered the structure of EV71 and identified the process by which the virus spreads throughout cells in the human body. These findings can now be used to develop new treatments for hand-foot-and-mouth; and also directly translated to other viruses of the same family, including polio and some forms of the common cold."

The solving of hand, foot and mouth virus demonstrates the potential impact that the new capabilities could have. Crystal at the Diamond synchrotron enables researchers to rapidly visualise viruses in their entirety and at incredible scales. The facility's brilliant beams of X-rays allow scientists to study crystallised virus particles, and so produce a comprehensive 3D image of the virus structure. By identifying the virus structure in atomic detail, scientists can target research into vaccines and anti-viral drugs.

The facility is the only one of its kind in Europe and one of only two in the world. Dr Katherine McAuley, science leader for the facility concludes, "Crystal is a major advance, not just for the UK, but for Europe at large. Given the groundwork that has been performed at Diamond so far on viruses like the hand-foot-and-mouth, we are introducing a step change in research capabilities, so that more complex studies can be undertaken in a swift and effective way. The unique capabilities that the facility offers are expected to draw scientists from around the world, and establish the nation's synchrotron as a hub of world-leading research into disease prevention."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Diamond Light Source. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Diamond Light Source. "Diamond sheds light on basic building blocks of life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217134244.htm>.
Diamond Light Source. (2013, February 17). Diamond sheds light on basic building blocks of life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217134244.htm
Diamond Light Source. "Diamond sheds light on basic building blocks of life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217134244.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins