We recently attended the 34th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Virology (ASV 2015) at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. It was interesting exploring the different research topics in virology and viewing the impressive posters in the Great Hall. There were a few key facts we learned about the way scientists study viruses.
Molecular binding steps are important for defining the virus lifecycle. Understanding the strength and potency of binding at each step is the key approach for drug and vaccine development. The most common interactions studied in virology are protein-protein, protein-antibody, protein-nucleic acid and protein-small molecules. Many researchers are currently using immunoprecipitation and co-immunoprecipitation to capture protein-binding molecules to analyze protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid binding events. The main pain points associated with this technique are the time it takes to complete an experiment (usually three days) and the lack of confidence in relative quantitative data.
We were proud to spread the word that with our surface plasmon resonance (SPR) instrument, OpenSPR, three days is reduced to one, and you can quantify the amount of binding by the slope and magnitude of the binding curves.
Virology researchers would also like to use SPR as the main technique for determining on rates (kon), off rates (koff) and binding affinities (KD). Current interaction analysis tools are not an affordable option. (Again, we had good news: our OpenSPR is 1/10th the cost.) They also dislike having to use core facilities due to cost and inaccessibility. SPR instruments at core facilities generally require heavy maintenance and a technician — and the cost of sensor chips is definitely a drawback. (Neither is the case with ours.)
Many Universities simply have no access to an SPR instrument. The need for newer affordable technologies to drive the next generation of scientific breakthroughs in virology was expressed. That’s where we come in, and that’s part of the reason we were there.
Despite the hot and humid tent, it was great meeting scientists with cutting-edge research in virology and receiving positive feedback and input about OpenSPR for the study of virus-host interactions. We look forward to the next ASV meeting.
-Nicoya Lifesciences Team