First computational reconstruction of a virus in its biological whole – ScienceDaily


A researcher at Aston University has created the first ever computer to reconstruct a virus, including its complete original genome.

Although other researchers have created similar reconstructions, this is the first to replicate the exact chemical composition and 3D structure of a “live” virus.

This breakthrough may lead the way for a search for an alternative to antibiotics, which would reduce the risk of antibacterial resistance.

search Reconstruction and validation of the whole virus model with whole genome from mixed-resolution cryo-EM Written by Dr Dimitri Nerokh, from the Department of Mathematics in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Aston University, Published in the journal Faraday discussions.

The research was conducted using existing data on virus structures measured via cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), and computational modeling that took nearly three years though the use of supercomputers in the UK and Japan.

This breakthrough will open the way for biologists to investigate biological processes that cannot currently be fully examined because the genome is missing in the virus model.

This includes discovering how a phage, a type of virus that infects bacteria, kills specific disease-causing bacteria.

Currently, it is not known how this happens, but this new method of creating more accurate models will open up further research into using a phage to kill specific, life-threatening bacteria.

This could lead to more targeted treatment of diseases that are currently treated with antibiotics, and thus help address the growing threat of antibiotic resistance to humans.

“Until now no one else has been able to build a genuine genome model of an entire virus at this level of (atomic) detail,” said Dr Nirukh.

“Being able to study the genome inside the virus more clearly is very important. Without the genome it would have been impossible to know exactly how the phage infects bacteria.

“This development will now allow virologists to help answer questions that they could not answer previously.

“This could lead to treatments targeted at killing bacteria that are dangerous to humans, and reduce the global problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is becoming more and more dangerous over time.”

The team approach to modeling has many other potential applications. One is to create computational reconstructions aided by cryoelectron microscopy – a technique used to examine life forms cooled to an extreme temperature.



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