SARS-CoV-2 infecting cells imaged by helium ion microscopy
The world’s focus is on coronavirus, but it’s an invisible enemy - impossible to see even with most microscopes. Seeing SARS-CoV-2 (the virus behind COVID-19) in action can reveal clues about how it works and how to fight it. So far, most attempts to observe its nefarious behaviour have been with scanning electron microscopes, which scan surfaces with a beam of electrons to produce an image. However, this approach requires samples to be first coated in a conductive material like gold, which can interfere with the structure of the subjects. Now a team has used helium ion microscopy to image the virus (artificially coloured blue) interacting with infected monkey kidney cells. This technique sidesteps the need for a coating, and provides detailed images which should reveal how the virus attaches to cells. This will both highlight natural defence mechanisms in action and guide new approaches for treatment.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.