New Method for Observing Viruses May Shed light on How to Stop Them

December 8, 2015

Fig. 1:Detection of dielectric nanoparticles in a nanofluidic fiber*. [published under an ACS Author Choice License]

Viruses such as influenza spread so effectively, and as a result can be so deadly to their hosts, because of their ability to spontaneously self-assemble in large numbers.

If researchers can understand how viruses assemble, they may be able to design drugs that prevent viruses from forming in the first place. Unfortunately, how exactly viruses self-assemble has long remained a mystery because it happens very quickly and at very small length-scales.

Now, there is a system to track nanometer-sized viruses at sub-millisecond time scales. The method, developed by researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, under the supervision of Prof. Vinothan Manoharan, is the first step towards tracking individual proteins and genomic molecules at high speeds as they assemble to create a virus.

Continue reading "Seeing Viruses in a New Light," by Leah Burrows, on SEAS website.

* Also see the original paper: S. Faez, Y. Lahini, S. Weidlich, R.F. Garmann, K. Wondraczek, M. Zeisberger, M.A. Schmidt, M. Orrit†, and V.N. Manoharan, "Fast, Label-Free Tracking of Single Viruses and Weakly Scattering Nanoparticles in a Nanofluidic Optical Fiber," ACS Nano, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b05646 .