Electron microscopes will allow more detailed study of viral diseases
The Pirbright Institute and Diamond Light Source have announced a new-five year collaboration that will allow both institutions to make advancements in their research. This agreement will improve research and innovation identified by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) infrastructure programme.
Pirbright’s head of bioimaging Professor Pippa Hawes will be working at both sites, helping to prepare Pirbright research projects for high resolution electron microscopy and contributing to Diamond’s development initiatives.
Commenting on the agreement, Prof Hawes says: “There is a lot of preparatory work that can be carried out at Pirbright with our microscopes. We can use them to really define the questions we need to answer and then ensure we have samples prepared in a way that will maximise their use at Diamond.”
Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron, has an embedded cryo-electron microscope facility, known as Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC). These powerful microscopes are capable of solving protein molecular structures to below 0.3 nm resolution, and are well suited to projects that involve understanding the cell biology of virus-host interactions, as well as how viruses replicate.
The microscopes have also enabled the design of a new vaccine for the foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), through allowing Pirbright scientists to view the outer shell of the vaccine. This vaccine has recently been licensed for further development.
Director of Pirbright, Bryan Charleston comments: “A long and productive association between Pirbright and Diamond exists that has resulted in vital research developments such as the visualisation of the FMDV capsid, bluetongue virus and bovine antibody structures. We hope this agreement will aid our ambition to understand the biology of high consequence viruses and expand the range of programmes exploring solutions to control current and emerging problems.”