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Peter Rosenthal : Structural Biology of Cells and Viruses

We are studying the three-dimensional structure of viruses to better understand how they infect cells and copy themselves.

Viruses particles survive by infecting host cells, replicating within them and releasing newly created virus particles back into the body and the wider environment.

Our lab is studying the three-dimensional structure and interactions of viruses and host cells using extremely high-powered microscopes and sophisticated image analysis techniques to find out exactly how viruses interact with molecules inside or on the surface of the cells. We are mainly focusing on viruses such as flu and HIV, which are encased in an envelope made of fats (lipids), although our techniques can be applied to other types of viruses too.

Using these techniques, we will be able to better understand the basic molecular machinery that controls how viruses infect cells – for example, by discovering how virus particles fuse with host cells as they infect them, and how new virus particles are built within and released from cells.

By gathering detailed knowledge about the molecular processes at work as viruses enter and escape from host cells, we hope to inform the development of new therapies to prevent or treat viral infections.