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article imageImaging technology helps screen childhood disease

By Tim Sandle     Jan 14, 2014 in Science
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause serious illnesses in children. In the early stages the disease is difficult to detect. New imaging technology offers a way to increase detection of the disease.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that causes respiratory tract infections. It is a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections and hospital visits during infancy and childhood. For some children, RSV can cause bronchiolitis, leading to severe respiratory illness requiring hospitalization and, rarely, causing death. This is more likely to occur in patients that are immunocompromised or infants born prematurely.
A new technique has been developed for studying the structure of the RSV virus. The tool also helps researchers to see the activity of RSV in living cells. This could help scientists to unlock the secrets of the virus, including how it enters cells and how it replicates. Furthermore, this could provide scientists information they need to develop new antiviral drugs to treat severe RSV infections.
The new imaging technology allows scientists to characterize some aspects of the virus particle itself at super-resolution, down to 20 nanometers, using direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) imaging. This super-small imaging is particuylalrr useful for RSV: the infectious particle can take different forms, ranging from 10-micron filaments to ordinary spheres.
The researchers hope that the imaging technique they developed could be used to study other RNA viruses, including influenza and Ebola.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences and published in the journal ACS Nano. The paper is titled “Combining Single RNA Sensitive Probes with Subdiffraction-Limited and Live-Cell Imaging Enables the Characterization of Virus Dynamics in Cells”.
In a related development, scientists have created a new imaging technique that could identify which patients are at high risk.
More about Imaging, Childhood, Disease, Respiratory syncytial virus, Nanotechnology
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