The cost of influenza virus care in the EU was approx. €29 billion in 2018, or 2% of total healthcare costs. The costs to EU state governments for dealing with the Covid-19 virus could be 50 times that of influenza, effectively doubling normal healthcare costs. The EU needs to be better prepared to quickly develop vaccines and drugs to deal with future outbreaks but this can only be achieved with a full understanding of disease pathways.
The central idea in project CoCID is that changes in the size and structure of cellular organelle, as any disease infiltrates a cell, are seen as early warning indicators of that disease. The only technology available today that can image through a whole cell, measuring organelle size and structure, is soft x-ray microscopy (SXM).
The problem is that the illumination required for a soft x-ray microscope is currently only available at four football-stadium sized facilities, called synchrotrons, and only 2% of the disease research community have access.
The challenge addressed by project CoCID is to make SXM available to the wider disease research and drug discovery community, while also showing how technology improvements enhance its ability to revolutionise cell structure imaging.
SiriusXT's breakthrough innovation is its ability to miniaturize the synchrotron into a small chamber that will easily fit on a laboratory bench, providing the same type of soft x-ray illumination as the synchrotron. This novel and patented innovation, based on a laser-produced plasma (LPP) design, will give researchers 24/7 access to this imaging modality in their own labs.
To demonstrate impact, the scope of the project has been narrowed to focus only on diseases relating to viral and bacterial infection, allowing a consortium of leading virologists and imaging experts to collaborate in elucidating the cellular origins of viral infection in a range of applications while increasing the EU's readiness for future viral pandemics.