Our research is about virus-membrane interactions.
Marta Bally started studying viruses during a postdoc in biophysics around 10 years ago. Originally, she was aiming to develop assays for virus detection, but Marta quickly realized that she was much more interested in fundamental research and started to investigate how viruses manage to enter our cells. In order to come into close contact with cells, viruses have various interactions with the cell-surface. However, these interactions shouldn’t be too strong, as this could prevent virus movement towards its point of entry or hinder the release of newly produced virus particles. In the laboratory of Marta Bally various methods have been set up to track the movement of viruses along a cell or cell-like surface and to determine how well the viruses stick.
Early reports on SARS-CoV-2 speculated that it spread more easily between humans than SARS-CoV-1 because the spike protein of the former binds stronger to the ACE2 receptor on the outside of our cells. However, it is not clear how this observed increase in affinity translates to changes in attachment, diffusion, and release of these and other corona viruses at the cell surface. Marta knew that she had the tools to test this and quickly wrote up a new research plan for which she received funding. The results from her research group will give valuable insights into how viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, manage to enter our cells and will hopefully allow other researchers to design antiviral drugs to block virus entry more efficiently.
Marta Bally, who has her background in physics, works at the department for Clinical Microbiology amongst virologist and immunologists since 2018. The exchange of information, materials and knowledge has been really good at the department and leads to excellent opportunities to pursue interdisciplinary research.
If you are looking for a postdoc position focusing on virus entry and you have experience with the use of fluorescence techniques to probe cellular trafficking and/or viral entry and exit, Marta urges you to get in contact with her.
Further details on her work can be found on her website