Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

New Imaging Sheds Light On Basic Building Blocks of Life 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-at-that dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at the UK's national synchrotron facility are studying the structure of Containment Level 3 pathogens such as Aids, Flu and Hepatitis. They use high intensity X-Rays to study the atomic and molecular structure of pathogens too small to be examined under a microscope. This leads to a greater understanding of how they work. They have already produced results on the hand, foot and mouth virus. This is the first time Level 3 pathogens have been imaged in this way."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Imaging Sheds Light On Basic Building Blocks of Life

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Wait a second... (Score:5, Informative)

    by scheme (19778) on Monday February 18, 2013 @07:36PM (#42939873)

    The contaimination levels are explained in this article [wikipedia.org]. I believe aids and influenza are both BSL-2. I think the levels are based on ease of infection, potential severity, and treatments. AIDS is pretty hard to get outside of fluid transmission but it's pretty severe once you get it . OTOH, influenza A is fairly easily transmitted but most people recover (~30,000 die each year from it in the US).

  • Re:Wait a second... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday February 18, 2013 @07:45PM (#42939943) Homepage

    Just in the quick reading I've done, there appears to be at least a couple of different definitions involved here.

    There are Biosafety Levels [lbl.gov] that discuss the level of sterilization and staff protection appropriate for the vector. Organisms with airborne infectivity (ie, Influenza) are BL 3. Interestingly, the reference that I pulled doesn't describe HIV.

    For BL 3

    BL3 is applicable to facilities in which work is conducted with indigenous or exotic agents that may cause serious or potentially lethal disease as a result of exposure by the inhalation route.3

    Then there is Physical Containment (PC) [amr.org.au] levels:

    Risk Group 2 (moderate individual risk, limited community risk) - a pathogen that can cause human, plant or animal disease, but is unlikely to be a serious hazard to laboratory workers, the community, livestock, or the environment; laboratory exposure may cause infection, but effective treatment and preventive measures are available, and the risk of spread is limited. Generally work with Risk Group 2 microorganisms shall be carried out in Physical Containment level 2 (PC2).

    Risk Group 3 (high individual risk, limited community risk) - a pathogen that usually causes serious human, plant or animal disease and may present a serious hazard to laboratory workers. It could present a risk if spread in the community or environment, but there are usually effective preventative measures or treatment available. Work with Risk Group 3 microorganisms shall be carried out in Physical Containment level 3 (PC3).

    Seems confusing which doesn't surprise me.

  • Re:First time? (Score:4, Informative)

    by the gnat (153162) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:54PM (#42940735)

    there's absolutely nothing new about using X-ray crystallography in the study of pathogens

    The press release is horribly written. What they're doing that is genuinely novel, AFAIK, is crystallizing actual infectious virus in a biosafety level 3 facility. Usually crystallographers work with just the capsid or some other subset of viral proteins, which requires fewer (if any) special precautions. The native virus particles are typically studied by EM, which typically doesn't yield as high resolution as crystallography, but has the advantage of requiring much more portable and less expensive equipment than crystallography.

    They didn't bother to link to the actual paper, but it is (remarkably) free online [nih.gov].

  • Re:First time? (Score:4, Informative)

    by DrCJM (827451) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:08PM (#42940829)

    The press release is horribly written.

    On this we agree...

    What they're doing that is genuinely novel, AFAIK, is crystallizing actual infectious virus in a biosafety level 3 facility. Usually crystallographers work with just the capsid or some other subset of viral proteins, which requires fewer (if any) special precautions.

    No, we don't. Intact viral particles are the norm.

    The native virus particles are typically studied by EM, which typically doesn't yield as high resolution as crystallography, but has the advantage of requiring much more portable and less expensive equipment than crystallography.

    While there are lots of EM studies of viral particles, X-ray studies are much more common - 33 full EM models versus 317 diffraction structures. The page I linked in the first response to this article shows just a few of the picornavirus structures that have been determined by X-ray diffraction studies over the past several decades. There are other virus structures out there as well, with an excellent website for anyone interested being Viper [scripps.edu].

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

Working...