DECTRIS detectors in the fight against COVID-19

DECTRIS is not a pharmaceutical or medtech company, yet DECTRIS’ products have been crucial in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and at least one COVID-19 treatment that was already released to the market. Why? Because if you want to fight a disease, you first have to understand what you’re fighting against. This is what DECTRIS does best.

Paving the way for a vaccine

Before you can create a vaccine or treatment to fight a disease caused by a virus, you need to understand what kind of a structure the virus has. You need a very good camera to take a very good picture of something as small as a virus, and DECTRIS’ detectors are the most commonly used for taking pictures of viruses, including the coronavirus. After all, some 75% of all the coronavirus structures in the world have been solved using a DECTRIS detector.

DECTRIS detectors used for this type of research can be found worldwide at specialized research facilities called synchrotron sources. Examples include DESY in Germany, DLS in the UK, ESRF in France, and APS in the United States. APS, for example, was instrumental in the development of the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines.

Learn more about how DESY researchers fight COVID-19 with DECTRIS

Developing a coronavirus treatment

While vaccines help us not catch a disease to begin with, treatments make the disease go away faster and with less damage and suffering. The rule from above applies also here: you need to solve the structure of the virus’s proteins to figure out what kind of drug will help fight the virus. The data collected from synchrotron research is again helpful, and the U.S.-based APS had some recent success. The research done at this synchrotron, funded by a pharmaceutical industry consortium that includes Pfizer, helped the pharma group create an effective COVID-19 treatment: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Paxlovid for use on 22 December 2021.

The DECTRIS EIGER2 9M detector at the IMCA-CAT beamline at the Advanced Photon Source, where work was done to determine the structure of Pfizer’s new COVID-19 antiviral treatment candidate. (Image by Lisa Keefe, IMCA-CAT/Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.)

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