Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Energy of attacking virus revealed

For the first time the research world has managed to measure the energy that is used when a virus infects a cell. The aim is to find a way to reduce the amount of energy inside the virus and thereby ultimately find a medicine that can counteract infections.

A group of chemistry researchers from Lund University in Sweden and from the University of Lyon in France lie behind the study.

On the borderline between chemistry and physics, scientists are finding new and exciting ways to understand how viruses function. Biochemist Alex Evilevitch from Lund University has long been interested in the more physical aspects of how viruses infect cells, both in humans and in bacteria (bacteria can in fact become infected by viruses).

In earlier research Alex Evilevitch has shown that viruses evince extremely high internal pressure, as high as the pressure at a depth of 500 meters (1640 feet) below sea level. Or, for that matter, pressure that is ten times more powerful than in an unopened bottle of champagne. This pressure functions as the virus's weapon when it attacks.

"The pressure enables the virus to insert its genes at high speed into the cell it is infecting," says Alex Evilevitch.

A virus consists of a thin protein coat that encapsulates its genes. When the virus has managed to infect a human cell, for example, the human's own genes are fooled into copying the genes of the virus, which helps the virus multiply inside the human body. The problem in finding medicines for virus infections is that viruses mutate at a rapid pace, that is, their genes are constantly changing, which makes it difficult to get a handle on them.

Alex Evilevitch and his colleagues are therefore seeking a solution by following another lead, with the help of physics. His research team is trying to find a way to regulate the pressure inside the coat of the virus. They want to lower the pressure in order to neutralize the virus. To be able to lower the pressure, they need to reduce the amount of energy inside the virus.

The three Swedish scientists Alex Evilevitch, Professor Bengt Jönsson, and doctoral candidate Meerim Jeembaeva, along with their colleague Martin Castelnovo in France, are the first researchers in world to succeed in measuring this amount of energy. They have used an instrument, a so-called calorimeter, that can measure the generation of heat at the very moment of infection, that is, when the virus sends off its genes with the help of its internal pressure.

The research team has also shown that the amount of energy in the virus is governed by the amount of water inside the coat of the virus. The scientists have therefore focused on developing methods for controlling the amount of energy in the virus by controlling the amount of water it contains. The research findings are now being published in Journal of Molecular Biology.

Alex Evilevitch says that there is great interest in this research field among clinical and molecular virologists, that is, virus researchers working in medical science.

Alex Evilevitch is a senior lecturer in biochemistry at the Center for Molecular Protein Science at the Department of Chemistry, Lund University. He is currently also employed by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For more information, please contact:, mobile: +1(412) 482 2301

Pressofficer Lena Björk Blixt:;+46-46 222 7186

Lena Björk Blixt | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Scientists invented method of catching bacteria with 'photonic hook'

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Next Generation Cryptography

20.03.2018 | Information Technology

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>