Instruct Centres > Centre for Virus Production

Instruct Centre in the field of large scale virus production and development of virus purification methods for structural analysis (ICVIR)

Centre for Virus Production

Instruct Flagship Service/Technology

Virus purification at ICVIR University of Helsinki in Finland

Our platform provides large amounts of pure viruses and macromolecular complexes for structural studies using traditional ultracentrifugation methods. The platform is equipped with seven ultra and four superspeed centrifuges as well as gradient making and fractionation instrumentation. We also develop new methods for virus purification using asymmetric flow field flow fractionation (AF4) and monolithic chromatography in co-operation with the manufacturers (Postnova and Biaseparations). We also develop novel bioinformatics tools for comparison of protein sequences and structures. Our technologies are available for external users. They can be used in different combinations to purify large macromolecular complexes, such as viruses.

Instruct service/technology information

Centre for Virus Production

Instruct Centre in the field of large scale virus production and development of virus purification methods for structural analysis (ICVIR).

ICVIR is the only Instruct Centre in Nordic countries. It provides methods and principles developed for the production and purification of virus-sized particles from simple to highly complex structures and masses in the order of tens to hundreds of MDa's. As viruses are the most abundant life forms and causative agents of severe infectious diseases in all cellular organisms, it is important to include them in the Instruct activities and to improve the methods to produce and purify viruses for structural studies.

Our platform is supported by the expertise on the following fields:

  • Centrifugation methods
  • Chromatography
  • Asymmetric flow field flow fractionation
  • Bioinformatics
Large viruses push the limits of structure determination to high resolution. Viruses, however, are the natural interface connecting cell biology to structural biology. The enormous viral universe is also the least explored domain of life. Each virus is a challenge to produce in the laboratory and the standard biochemical protein purification methods are in most cases inadequate to produce highly purified particles for structural studies. The best purification results have been obtained using methods where the particles stay in the liquid phase. Traditional preparative gradient ultracentrifugation is the most common virus purification method. Our ICVIR Centre has four superspeed centrifuges and seven ultracentrifuges. When running a number of centrifuges in parallel adequate amounts of material for structural studies can be obtained. However, new methods are very much needed to meet the demands of higher purity and we are constantly developing such methods. Recently, we published a purification method utilizing monolithic anion exchange chromatography. We are also currently setting up methods for purification of viruses with asymmetric flow field flow fractionation. We also have expertise in the development of bioinformatics tools to compare protein sequences and structures. Consequently, ICVIR provides a variety of technologies to purify large macromolecule complexes for structural and functional studies. Our personnel is skilful and well-trained to provide expertise and support in purification and production of macromolecular complexes, such as viruses.

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For information about our research done under the Programme on Molecular Virology at the University of Helsinki, please visit:

Instruct Centre ICVIR is located at the Biocenter of the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. This Biocenter is situated at the Viikki Campus ~10 km from the city center and is easily accessible by public transport in ~30 minutes. More information on the Viikki Campus and the busses and their time tables can be found from the University of Helsinki web pages ( The Helsinki Vantaa International airport is located ~20 min drive from the Viikki Campus.

Viikki Campus hosts four faculties (Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), two research institutes of the University of Helsinki (Institute of Biotechnology and Neuroscience Centre) and the Viikki Science Library.

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