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Model of adenovirus, England, 1974-1976

The adenovirus was discovered in 1953. Since then a hundred types have been found, 47 of which affect humans. Adenoviruses are a type of virus that contains DNA and cause conjunctivitis, gastroenteritis and infections in the respiratory tract. This cardboard and plastic model shows type 5, which causes respiratory infections. A body must fight off an adenovirus itself as antibiotics are ineffective. All adenoviruses are this shape, which is icosahedral or twenty sided. Adenoviruses are only visible using an electron microscope.

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    Techniques and Technologies:


    Glossary: electron microscope

    An electron microscope uses a beam of electrons, instead of light, to produce highly magnified images of objects. As electrons have a much smaller wavelength than visible light, this allows a much higher resolution to be achieved

    Glossary: model - representation

    Use for a scaled representation of an object or structure, usually three-dimensional. The item is often idealised or modified to make it conceptually easier to understand.

    Glossary: DNA

    DNA stores the information, or blueprints, of every cell and is located in the genes. It is made up of two strands which form a double helix that is linked by hydrogen bonds. It was first described in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson.

    Glossary: virus

    A tiny particle made up of DNA/RNA and a protein coat. Viruses infect animals, plants, and micro-organisms and cause many diseases, including the common cold, influenza, measles, chickenpox, AIDS, polio and rabies. Many viral diseases can be controlled by means of vaccines.

    Glossary: antibiotic

    A substance that is used to treat infections.

    Glossary: gastroenteritis

    A bacterial or viral infection caused by the inflammation of both the stomach and the small intestine.

    Glossary: adenovirus

    A virus that contains DNA. It causes respiratory infections that have similar symptoms to the common cold.

    Glossary: conjunctivitis

    Inflammation of the conjunctiva (outer coating of the eye), which becomes red and produces a watery discharge. It is caused by infection or physical or chemical irritation and is easily treated.