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Leica Microsystems Donate Advanced Microscopy System to Progress COVID-19 Research

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Leica Microsystems has donated a THUNDER 3D Live Cell imaging system to the Institute of Virology of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

Since the start of the current coronavirus outbreak, the Institute of Virology on Campus Charité Mitte, led by Director Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, has been at the forefront of viral research into SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

This new advanced microscopy system will be used by several working groups headed up by PD Dr. Marcel Müller, Dr. Daniela Niemeyer and Prof. Dr. Christine Goffinet. All three groups are working together to help develop clinical strategies to treat the disease, by investigating how the virus enters cells, what exactly happens when human respiratory cells are infected, and how antiviral drug candidates would work.

The donated THUNDER Imager aims to bring two key benefits to the researchers; delivering faster results and making the analysis of images easier, uncovering more information about the structural detail of the studied cells. The Leica team will help the Institute of Virology to become proficient with the new system as quickly as possible and ensure optimal results.

The head of the Institute of Virology, Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, is an expert in the diagnosis of infections due to coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS. Prof. Dr. Drosten co-discovered the first SARS-CoV and developed the PCR-based test for SARS-CoV-2.

On the donation of the THUNDER Imager, Prof. Dr. Drosten stated, “We are pleased to be given the opportunity to work with the THUNDER Imager. Its capabilities give us the possibility to understand the development of virulence over the course of the epidemic and the potential to develop high-throughput and sensitive serological tests for SARS-CoV-2 immunity. During this critical time, it is of paramount importance that we work together, both to combat this pandemic and to arm ourselves effectively for the future. It is great to partner with Leica Microsystems on this and we look forward to working with this new microscopy technology.”

Markus Lusser, President of Leica Microsystems, commented, “Leica Microsystems is proud to support the Charité’s work in the fight against COVID 19. The THUNDER imager we have provided is particularly suited to imaging live cells in 3D disease models, helping to uncover their true physiology. Helping scientists learn more about COVID-19 will benefit the global community, helping us to stay healthy and fight this disease as we rebuild our economy after this pandemic.”