We usually think of viruses as our enemies, because they might infect us and make us sick, like the flu virus. However, viruses can be your friends. Trevor Douglas, the Earl Blough Professor of Chemistry at Indiana University, and his research team has exploited viruses and related virus-like particles (VLPs) as nano platforms with applications in materials science and medicine. The Wyatt-based SEC-MALS-QELS setup, incorporating a DAWN MALS detector, WyattQELS DLS module, and Optilab differential refractometer along with an HPLC-SEC stack, is an essential tool for their work in the development and characterization of VLPs with various functionalities.
Professor Douglas says, “One of our research focuses is developing a method to encapsulate functional guest molecules such as enzymes inside of VLPs. In this research, it is critical to assess how many guest molecules are encapsulated per VLP. SEC-MALS-QELS configuration allows us to address this question in a robust manner, which is otherwise not easy to tease out by other means. We also have employed SEC-MALS-QELS to characterize morphological transformation of VLPs over heat and chemical treatments. We are using this instrument almost every single day. It is certainly the most heavily used analytical instrument in my lab over the last eight years.” Indeed, there are three Light Scattering University (LSU) alumni in the lab. Professor Douglas himself attended LSU when he first installed SEC-MALS in his lab. A few years later, Dr. Masaki Uchida, an associate scientist in the lab also completed LSU training. Most recently a graduate student Ms. Kate Selivanovitch took LSU training last year to bring some fresh knowledge of the instrument back to the lab.
“LSU was a great hands-on training opportunity to learn practical skills as well as fundamental knowledge of light scattering from experts to carry out the analysis, and a chance to interact with the staff at Wyatt.”