Influenza viruses

More insight into the flu and developing better antiviral drugs through research at the nanoscale

We all know the symptoms of the flu or a cold. Both are caused by a virus. But how do these viruses attach themselves to the cells in your body so that you subsequently become ill? How do such viruses learn to transmit from wild birds to poultry, mammals and humans? And what can we do to detect viruses and develop better antiviral drugs? Scientists at MESA+ are researching these issues. 

A virus consists of small virus particles that – from a biological point of view – have a relatively simple structure. However, it is not entirely clear how these virus particles attach themselves to the cells in your body and then invade them. Our research into how adhesion proteins of influenza viruses attach themselves to cell receptors should clarify at the nanoscale how this process works. We construct models of cell membranes in various forms, for example with receptors from birds or humans, so that the virus is attached as well or as poorly as possible. In doing so, we use advanced measuring equipment, so that we can understand the mechanism of the virus adhesion proteins in detail. The data we obtain from this research gives us insight into how the flu works and contributes to developing biosensors and better antiviral drugs.