Using a newly developed method, Utrecht University researchers have mapped the structure and composition of the hepatitis B virus. The researchers were able to map the structure by spraying the virus.
Their research brings us a step closer to understanding and combating hepatitis B infection. The method can also be used to analyse other viruses. The results of the search were recently published in two renowned scientific journals: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and Angewandte Chemie International Edition England.
To better understand and deal with viral infections, it is essential to examine the virus carefully at molecular level. However, the virus is too large to do this using the standard methods. For that reason, especially for this project, Utrecht University researcher Charlotte Uetrecht developed a modified mass spectrometer that can spray the virus intact. She did this together with Prof. Albert Heck (Utrecht University) and researchers from America and Amsterdam.
Preventing viral infection
Using the modified mass spectrometer, the researchers looked at the structure and composition of the hepatitis B virus, a virus that causes severe liver ailments in humans. With the spectrometer, the researchers not only observed various forms of the virus, but they also saw the virus’ molecular structure. This makes it possible in the future to block the production of viruses, and in that way to combat viral infection. The technology developed can also be used to map and identify other viruses, such as viruses that can potentially be used in weaponised form by terrorists.
Mass spectrometry is a technology with which scientists can identify molecules. Among other things, this technology is used in dope testing and for identifying paint traces in forensic investigations. Mass spectrometry works particularly well with smaller molecules. Viruses however are a million times greater in mass. To be able to use mass spectrometry nevertheless, researchers spray the virus with water through a high-tension electric charge. This technique separates the viruses from the water, enabling researchers to examine them individually. This spraying process is comparable to the transmission of a cold virus by sneezing.
Peter van der Wilt | alfa
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Information Technology
05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences