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 Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

nachricht Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>