Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The University of Manchester uses crystals to help battle deadly diseases

23.11.2004


A groundbreaking technique developed at The University of Manchester, which uses crystals to map ‘invisible’ parts of molecules, is set to revolutionise drug discovery.



The technique, which involves sending beams of neutrons through crystals at freezing temperatures, just a few degrees above ’absolute zero’, will for the first time allow scientists to see complete structures of protein molecules, right down to the last atom.

The problem faced by scientists using current methods is the fact that it is not possible to detect every atom in a protein’s molecular structure, and the structures therefore are incomplete – making drug design more difficult.


Professor John R. Helliwell, Professor of Structural Chemistry, who led the research, said: “This has raised the stakes in the world of drug discovery. This methodology will make research in the field more powerful, more effective and more efficient.”

The breakthrough allows the molecular structures of proteins, the chemical catalysts in the body, to be studied in complete detail. In fact, experiments at the University have shown that the number of visible atoms in a molecule doubled when using the technique, compared to techniques used today.

Protein Crystallography is an important tool used to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins. Once a pharmaceutical company has this information, it is able to tailor drugs to target specific proteins, eg interfering with the function of such proteins in infectious agents like tuberculosis - enabling the production of more effective medicines.

‘Ultra-Cold Neutron Protein Crystallography’ improves on current methods by probing protein structures with neutrons at temperatures of 15K (-258 degrees C), dramatically increasing the number of visible atoms. The process especially reveals the hydrogen atoms, which hold the key to many chemical reactions, and because of their low mass, are rarely revealed by current methods like X-Ray Crystallography even if carried out at freezing temperatures.

Professor Helliwell added: “As well as the above advantages this makes other classes of experiments on proteins feasible. In particular, the comparison of protein structures at ultra-cold versus room temperature allows the details of atomic vibrations to be separated from structural disorders.”

“Another benefit to research that now becomes possible is that chemical reactions can be set running directly in the crystal and then freeze-trapped so as to probe the proteins in time with the neutron beam whilst the protein is actually in its functional state.”

Simon Hunter | alfa
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Silicon solar cell of ISFH yields 25% efficiency with passivating POLO contacts

08.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>