Microscopy and Sample Prep Solutions for Virology

The study of virus-infected tissues and cells to understand infection mechanisms and develop treatments for disease has dramatic implications for human health. Leica solutions for imaging and sample preparation help you with the investigation of viral entry and fusion, genome integration, viral replication, assembly, and virus budding. Data from analysis of well-prepared specimens also are important for studying the related cellular mechanisms and immune responses. The ultimate goal is to develop intervention strategies.

Viruses are investigated from the biopsy to single virion level. Some of the most common viruses studied are influenza, coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-2 causing COVID-19, etc.), herpes, hepatitis, dengue, zika, HIV, rabies, and Ebola, but there are many others.

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Our experts for imaging and sample preparation solutions concerning virology applications are happy to help you find the solution for your needs.

Host side of the virus infection process

For virology research model organisms are sometimes used, however, they do not mimic well the human host morphology. Hence, researchers more often rely on human tissue, biopsies, or cell culture studies.

Ex vivo infection models can be generated from tissue, biopsies, or animal models. These models can be investigated with the aid of Leica stereo microscopes.

Cell cultures, spheroids, and organoids can be monitored with the help of Leica widefield (compound) microscopes.

Further initial investigations of infection models, 2D or 3D cell cultures, are achieved with more sophisticated Leica fluorescence microscopes, such as THUNDER imagers.

More reliable downstream genetic analysis can be done with laser microdissection from Leica Microsystems which isolates specific cells from surrounding tissue.

Examples of virus applications studied with Leica solutions are given in the application note: Microscopy in Virology.

High resolution fluorescence imaging for virology research

High resolution microscopy is an asset for infectious disease studies as it allows you to track causative viruses or pathogens. Combined with fluorescent labelling of cellular or viral components, it enables you to probe multiple aspects of infection processes.

Thus, both laser scanning confocal and total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy obtaining super-resolution are instruments of choice for viral research.

Advanced microscopy techniques, such as multiphoton and light sheet microscopy, can give you access to infection events occurring under different contexts, such as tissue sections, animal models, and 3D infection models like organoids.

Leica microscopes offering you advantages for the study of 3D specimens concerning virology research include the STELLARIS confocal platform and TIRF solutions.

Image and diagram adapted from Coomer et al. PLOS Pathogen (2020) 16(2): e1008359, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008359

Ultrastructure of viruses

For the evaluation of virus ultrastructure, you need a resolution approaching 1 nm. At present, this resolution can only be achieved with electron microscopy. Cryo EM can achieve even sub-nanometer resolution.

Ultrastructural resolution allows you to actually see the host and virus interaction at the nanoscale, as well as confirm the results from different analytical technologies and identify potential drug target sites. Furthermore, ligands or small molecules of cell surface receptors targeted during viral particle interactions are key to the structure-guided design of vaccines and viral entry inhibitors.

For conventional and cryo EM, the sample preparation is crucial. It requires special equipment and expertise which Leica Microsystems offers you via an extensive portfolio for EM sample preparation as well as the advice from Leica experts.

Related products

Leica Microsystems offers you a variety of imaging and sample preparation solutions. They include widefield (stereo and compound) microscopes with fluorescence and brightfield, confocal and TIRF (total internal reflection fluorescence) microscopes achieving super-resolution, CLEM (correlative light and electron microscopy), laser microdissection, and electron microscopy sample prep systems.

Virology related articles

Read our latest articles about Virology

The knowledge portal of Leica Microsystems offers scientific research and teaching material on the subjects of microscopy. The content is designed to support beginners, experienced practitioners and scientists alike in their everyday work and experiments.

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