We were both looking forward to meeting everyone from Professor Didier Hober’s Virology Lab in Lille, and to the challenge of learning all the intricacies of working with Coxsackie B virus (CBV). Everyone in the lab was extremely welcoming and they were all very friendly and helpful - despite something of a language barrier! This meant we all became very inventive when explaining the science to ensure we all understood. As most of the best English speakers in the lab actually came from Tunisia, we had an interesting mix of people, with France, Tunisia, Senegal, Germany and England all represented. This gave a truly international feel to the place, even if it was only for a week.
During the week we learnt a series of viral related methodologies, it was mostly revision for Jay but for Sarah it was her first direct experience of working with viruses. We learnt techniques to amplify the viruses and create viral stocks, how to quantify virus from cell samples and how to handle the virus safely. We were also shown how to harvest infected samples for assessment by a number of other assays and Jay got some useful hands-on experience. Most importantly we learnt how we could establish a low level persistent infection in pancreas-related cell lines; this was the ultimate reason for our visit as we hope to show how CBV infections may contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes in humans.
As well as science, we also had time for a brief visit around the lovely centre of Lille, a wine tasting experience