Work done by graduate student Eric Alonas to concentrate the virus was essential to the project, Santangelo said. The concentration had to be done without adversely affecting the infectivity of the virus, which would have impacted its ability to enter host cells.
"It took quite a bit of work to get the right techniques to concentrate the RSV," he said. "Now we can make lots of infectious virus that's labelled and can be stored so we can use it when we want to."
To study the infection's progress in individual cells, the researchers faced another challenge: living cells move around, and following them complicates the research. To address that movement, the laboratory of Thomas Barker also in the Coulter Department used micro-patterned fibronectin on glass to create 50-micron "islands" that contained the cells during the study.
Among the mysteries that the researchers would like to tackle is why certain lung cells are severely infected while others appear to escape ill effects.
"If you look at a field of cells, you see huge differences from cell to cell, and that is something that's not understood at all," Santangelo said. "If we can figure out why some cells are exploding with virus while others are not, perhaps we can figure out a way to help the bad ones look more like the good ones."
In addition to those already mentioned, the research team included James Crowe, professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University; Elizabeth Wright, assistant professor in the School of Medicine at Emory University; Daryll Vanover, Jeenah Jung, Chiara Zurla, Jonathan Kirschman, Vincent Fiore, and Alison Douglas from the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University; Aaron Lifland and Manasa Gudheti from Vutara Inc. in Salt Lake City, and H
|Contact: John Toon|
Georgia Institute of Technology