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SiriusXT - innovation in cell structure imaging

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by Startacus Admin

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The Dublin-based startup that's created a disruptive and innovative solution for whole cell imaging to help accelerate progress in viral disease research...

cells2.When it comes to viruses and diseases, our understanding is still severely lacking. A part of this is due to the difficulty for biologists and virologists to actually get a good look at cells that have been invaded and what’s going on inside them so that they can understand how the disease works or even classify it. 

Soft x-rays allow us to see just this, but crucially, it allows us to see it in 3 dimensions, in its natural, fully hydrated state. The requirements for soft x-ray imaging are currently only available in billion-dollar, football stadium-sized electron accelerator facilities, of which only 4 exist in the world. Cell biologists have to wait for up to a year in order to be able to gain access to use these, and yet they have resulted in numerous breakthroughs. So it’s probably about time to find a way to miniaturise the technology and make it more accessible.

aevzbqzl98r4fu5bjxbk.Enter University College Dublin spin-out, SiriusXT. The problem is that soft x-rays are lower energy than the more common hard x-rays - which is what we use to see things like broken bones - and are absorbed easily by the air, meaning that they need to be used in a vacuum. But from research carried out by UCD’s School of Physics, SiriusXT, has been able to develop and patent a soft x-ray microscope, which uses a laser-produced plasma in a vacuum for its soft x-ray source, and which fits in any lab. 

SIRIUS XT IMAGEThis will help cellular biologists better understand viral diseases like hepatitis C, hepatitis E, herpesvirus, and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), which is exactly what SiriusXT is doing with UCD researchers in a project called CoCID, and how this breakthrough came about. Partners of the CoCID project will have early access to the SiriusXT soft x-ray microscope before it is rolled out fully.

In early October, SiriusXT was awarded €2.35m in funding by Horizon 2020, which brings their total to over €12m. Soft x-ray imaging like this is a proven and valuable imaging modality, and SiriusXT is making it widely available disease researchers and cellular biologists all over the world. Given the breakthroughs that came from limited access to the only 4 facilities previously in existence, this technology could be a game-changer.

 


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Published on: 13th December 2020

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