Scientists from Leo James’ group, from the LMB’s PNAC Division, showed their new ‘Virus Wars’ exhibit at this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition – to help celebrate the MRC’s centenary and showcase the group’s work on virus neutralisation.
As lead scientist Will McEwan explains, “We designed our ‘Virus Wars – Antibodies Fight Back’ exhibit to explain our work on intracellular virus neutralisation in a user-friendly way. Using a video animation we showed how viruses carry antibodies into cells during infection and how – once inside the cell – antibodies trigger a response, triggered by a protein called TRIM21, which sends the virus into the cell’s disposal system and destroys it.”
In addition to the video animation, the Virus Wars exhibit included interactive virus models, film clips illustrating life in the lab and a timeline highlighting key developments in virus and antibody research.
The stand also included a speed pipetting game – using a mock containment hood to illustrate how virologists can work safely whilst handling dangerous viruses. Visitors clamoured to try out the timed challenge or to urge on their friends and families. As AP from Kingston commented: “My grand-daughter did the pipette experiment in 18 seconds – major respect!!”
During the week (1-7 July 2013) the exhibition welcomed over 12,000 visitors, including over 2,650 students and teachers and a number of Royal Society Members and Fellows.
Visitors reactions to the stand were overwhelmingly positive with many singling out the “great research”‘ “excellent displays”‘ “interesting and informative” content, “lovely graphics/ demos” and the work of the team in explaining the topic “in a way that a layman could understand.”
“Great display – great research – well explained. Glad to see some pure research!”
“Amazing – thank you so much! This is one of the very best exhibits here and the people were fantastic.”
“Excellent work! Enjoyed the exhibit and a good discussion.” (NASA engineer)