As part of Penn State's "We Are Weekend" celebration, the Eberly College of Science will offer three sessions on Cryo-Electron Microscopy for Virology and Drug Discovery on Friday, June 17 (9:00 - 9:45 a.m., 11:00 - 11:45 a.m., and 1:00 - 1:45 p.m.)
Using cryo-EM, we visualize biological molecules, such as proteins and viruses, flash-frozen in the native hydrated conditions. The two-dimensional images of the molecules are transformed into a three-dimensional structural map through an image processing technique, called single particle analysis (SPA). Our lab studies the structure and mechanism of viruses and their interactions with host factors (receptor and antibody) by utilizing the cryo-EM SPA to understand viral infection and facilitate drug discovery. Applying this approach, we typically attain very high resolution which means that the details of the virus-host interactions are visible.
The 3D-structural information of viruses obtained by cryo-EM technique is then analyzed to identify potential binding-sites (pockets) on the surface of the virus that can be exploited and targeted by small molecule inhibitors. Using computational techniques we “virtually” screen millions of compounds to determine potential candidates that can serve as inhibitors to stop virus infection. Following virtual screening, selected candidates are experimentally tested to identify the most potent inhibitors that can potentially develop into new antiviral therapeutics. This approach, known as structure-based drug discovery, is the first stage of drug discovery.
The Eberly College of Science is also hosting a poster session on Friday, June 17. To register for the poster session and/or the sessions listed above, please visit the "We Are Weekend" registration portal.