Researchers at the Nanoscience Center (NSC) of University of Jyväskylä in Finland have developed a novel method to study enterovirus structures and their functions. The method will help to obtain new information on trafficking of viruses in cells and tissues as well as on the mechanisms of virus opening inside cells. This new information is important, for example, for developing new antiviral drugs and vaccines. The study was published online on January 13, 2014 in PNAS. The research was funded by the Academy of Finland and the TEKES FiDiPro -project NOVAC (Novel methods for vaccination and virus detection). Enteroviruses are pathogenic viruses infecting humans. This group consists of polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and rhinoviruses. Enteroviruses are the most common causes of flu, but they also cause serious symptoms such as heart muscle infections and paralysis. Recently, enteroviruses have also been linked with chronic diseases such as diabetes. The infection mechanisms and infectious pathways of enteroviruses are still rather poorly understood. Previous studies in the group of Dr. Varpu Marjomäki at the NSC have focused on the cellular factors that are important for the infection caused by selected enteroviruses. The mechanistic understanding of virus opening and the release of the viral genome in cellular structures for starting new virus production is still largely lacking. Furthermore, the knowledge of infectious processes in tissues is hampered by the lack of reliable tools for detecting virus infection. The newly developed method involves a chemical modification of a known thiol-stabilized gold nanoparticle, the so-called Au102 cluster that was first synthesized and structurally solved by the group of Dr.
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