It’s responsible for infecting more than five million across the world and now we can see exactly what it looks like in minute detail.
Scientists and CGI specialists at Visual Science have created the most scientifically accurate model of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and experts have been blown away by the “striking” precision.
The model is based on the latest scientific research into the structure of coronaviruses and communication with virologists currently working with the virus.
It was created by molecular and computational biologists from Visual Science with help and advice from leading specialists in structural virology of coronaviruses.
A 3D image of the coronavirus. Picture: Visual ScienceSource:Supplied
The model is based on the latest scientific research into the structure of coronaviruses. Picture: Visual ScienceSource:Supplied
Dr Jason McLellan, Associate Professor in Molecular Biosciences at the University of Texas, said the spikes were about as accurate as they could be given our current knowledge.
“The images are striking,” he said.
The model is part of Visual Science’s Viral Park project, which past successes include models of HIV, influenza A/H1N1, ebola, papilloma, and zika virions.
The goal of the Viral Park project is to popularise scientific exploration of the microworld and provide the opportunity to see the world’s most widespread and lethal human viruses at the atomic level.
Ivan Konstantinov, chief executive and founder of Visual Science, said they employed the same techniques of structural bioinformatics used in basic research and drug development.
“The model reflects scientists’ current understanding of the virus’s architecture,” he said.
“It includes surface protein spikes that interact with the receptors on the surface of the human cell to get inside, lipid envelope with an integrated layer of matrix proteins, and a genome assembly, reconstructed based on the available scientific data.”
It includes surface protein spikes that interact with the receptors on the surface of the human cell to get inside. Picture: Visual ScienceSource:Supplied
The virus has led to a global pandemic that is set to plunge the world into a deep recession.
Scientific director Yury Stefanov said they used published scientific information about the virus and structures of the viral components available in the Protein Data Bank as a starting point.
“After thorough and careful analysis of the data, we reconstruct complete models of the viral proteins and their interactions using computational biology software and then assemble the whole model of the virion based on these structures and information about the virion composition and assembly,” he said.
There have been more than 345,000 deaths across the world from COVID-19, more than 97,000 from the US, according to John Hopkins University.