In Barhoom et al we demonstrated the use of Anima's platform for the study of Viruses and how we can visualize and measure the live replication process of viruses inside living cells. The third image column from the left (black and white dots) shows the light coming out of the ribosomes as they assemble the viral proteins. After 20 hours of the viral infection, the light pattern changes from a diffused cloud in the top row (indicating normal protein synthesis), into three irregularly shaped areas where all protein synthesis activity is concentrated. Those so called "Viral Factories" have been discovered decades ago using electron microscopy. In this process the virus hijacks the ribosomes into encapsulated compartments protected by a membrane that prevent the host cell from detecting the activity and forces the ribosomes to produce its own viral proteins instead of normal cell proteins. With Anima's technology, for the first time ever, we can visualize this entire process in real time in live cells.
 Barhoom S, Kaur J, Cooperman BS, Smorodinsky NI, Smilansky Z, Ehrlich M, Elroy-Stein O. Quantitative single cell monitoring of protein synthesis at subcellular resolution using fluorescently labeled tRNA. Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 ;39(19):e129 Barhoom S, Farrell I, Shai B, Dahary D, Cooperman BS, Smilansky Z, Elroy-Stein O, Ehrlich M. Dicodon monitoring of protein synthesis (DiCoMPS) reveals levels of synthesis of a viral protein in single cells. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013;41(18):e177
These results open the way to the discovery of broad based anti-viral drugs that attack the fundamental replication mechanism of viruses. Instead of trying to bind to the specific viral protein, which is subject to mutations of the virus, we are focusing on cellular targets that the viruses hijack to its own needs. Cells exposed to such molecules will show a normal light pattern, indicating that the compound is interfering with the formation of the viral factories. This approach holds the promise for discovering broad based anti-viral drugs that do not suffer from the major problem of "viral resistance" that fundamentally challenges the development of anti-viral drugs.