Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using Artificial, Cell-Like 'Honey Pots' To Entrap Deadly Viruses

04.03.2011
Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Weill Cornell Medical College have designed artificial "protocells" that can lure, entrap and inactivate a class of deadly human viruses—think decoys with teeth.

The technique offers a new research tool that can be used to study in detail the mechanism by which viruses attack cells, and might even become the basis for a new class of antiviral drugs.

A new paper* details how the novel artificial cells achieved a near 100 percent success rate in deactivating experimental analogs of Nipah and Hendra viruses, two emerging henipaviruses that can cause fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans.

"We often call them honey pot protocells," says NIST materials scientist David LaVan, "The lure, the irresistibly sweet bait that you can use to capture something."

Henipaviruses, LaVan explains, belong to a broad class of human pathogens—other examples include parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, mumps and measles—called enveloped viruses because they are surrounded by a two-layer lipid membrane similar to that enclosing animal cells. A pair of proteins embedded in this membrane act in concert to infect host cells. One, the so-called "G" protein, acts as a spotter, recognizing and binding to a specific "receptor" protein on the surface of the target cell.

The G protein then signals the "F" protein, explains LaVan, though the exact mechanism isn't well understood. "The F protein cocks like a spring, and once it gets close enough, fires its harpoon, which penetrates the cell's bilayer and allows the virus to pull itself into the cell. Then the membranes fuse and the payload can get delivered into the cell and take over." It can only do it once, however.

The "honey pot" protocells have a core of nanoporous silica—inert but providing structural strength—wrapped in a lipid membrane like a normal cell. In this membrane the research team embedded bait, the protein Ephrin-B2, a known target of henipaviruses. To test it, they exposed the protocells to experimental analogs of the henipaviruses developed at Weill Cornell. The analogs are nearly identical to henipaviruses on the outside, but instead of henipaviral RNA, they bear the genome of a nonpathogenic virus that is engineered to express a fluorescent protein upon infection. This enables counting and visualizing infected cells.

In controlled experiments, the team demonstrated that the protocells are amazingly effective decoys, essentially clearing a test solution of active viruses, as measured by using the fluorescent protein to determine how many normal cells are infected by the remaining viruses.

The immediate benefit, LaVan says, is a powerful research tool for studying how enveloped viruses work. "This is a nice system to study this sort of choreography between a virus and a cell, which has been very hard to study. A normal cell will have tens of thousands of membrane proteins. You might be studying this one, but maybe it's one of the others that are really influencing your experiment. You reduce this essentially impossibly complicated natural cell to a very pure system, so you now can vary the parameters and try to figure out how you can trick the viruses."

In the long run, say the researchers, the honey pot protocells could become a whole new class of antiviral drugs. Viruses, they point out, are notorious for rapidly evolving to become resistant to drugs, but because the honey pots use the virus's basic infection mechanism, any virus that evolved to avoid them likely would be less effective at infecting normal cells as well.

* M. Porotto, F. Yi, A. Moscona and D.A. LaVan. Synthetic protocells interact with viral nanomachinery and inactivate pathogenic human virus. PLoS ONE published online on March 1, 2011. http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016874.

Michael Baum | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>