A University College Dublin spin-out company has been awarded €2.35 million in funding to examine the disease pathways of viruses.

SiriusXT has been awarded the funding through Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme.

The company and the UCD researchers, Assistant Professor Nicola Fletcher, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine and Fellow, UCD Conway Institute and Professor Dimitri Scholz, Director of Biological Imaging, UCD Conway Institute, are partners in an international project, CoCID, which has received a total of €5.67 million in funding.

The aim of the project is to provide insights into the cellular origins of viral diseases including; hepatitis C, hepatitis E, herpesvirus and SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, and to aid in the development of novel therapeutics using the company's novel soft x-ray microscope.

Changes in a cell's shape and in the shape of its internal organelle, are important influencers on the cell signalling mechanisms that underpin disease causation. For this reason, 3D imaging of the internal structure of whole and intact cells is playing an increasingly important role in helping scientists to understand diseases. The only technology that can image through the whole substructure of an intact cell, is low energy x-ray microscopy.

Based on research carried out at the UCD School of Physics over many years, SiriusXT has developed and patented a miniaturised soft x-ray source, allowing it to build the first commercial, lab-scale, soft x-ray microscope. This breakthrough is revolutionising the cell imaging market by opening up access for a proven imaging modality to thousands of disease researchers worldwide including those partnering in the CoCID project.

Enterprise Ireland leads the national support network for Horizon 2020, working to increase participation by Irish companies and academic institutions in the EU’s main instrument for funding research in Europe.

The funding has been awarded under the Horizon 2020 ICT-36-2020 call.