Research highlights

Molecular imagingUnderstanding African Swine Fever

African Swine Fever is a highly contagious, hemorrhagic virus, with high mortality rates in pigs. It is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe and, currently, there is no effective vaccine to prevent the disease. PhD student Suresh Banjara and Dr Sofia Caria, with Dr Marc Kvansakul, Dr Mark Hinds and collaborators at the Pirbright Institute, have identified how African Swine Fever hijacks cells to establish infection. Their findings, published in the Journal of Virology, may lead to new therapeutics to combat the disease.

Developing optical systems

In the future, our means of communication and data storage will be governed by optical systems. Dr Shanshan Kou, together with collaborators from the University of Melbourne, RMIT and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) is working on this cutting-edge technology, developing an ultra-thin film that enables the coding of light at the nanoscale. Their findings, published in Nature Communications, will find applications in optical storage, data transfer and bio-sensing, and pave the way toward commercialisation of optical communications technology.

New imaging techniques

Protein microcrystallography enables biologists and immunologists to image the structure of proteins, an important step for understanding disease and drug development. The technique uses tiny crystals made up of proteins and by diffracting x-rays from them, is able to image their constituent molecules.  PhD student Hannah Coughlan, Dr Brian Abbey and Dr Connie Darmanin, have developed new imaging techniques to characterise the interaction of protein microcrystals and x-rays. Their findings, published in the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation, will allow for better optimisation of protein microcrystallography experiments.