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Leading European experts in magnetic resonance for animals

The UAB SeRMN is enlarging its facilities to make room for two new cutting-edge machines for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

The devices are a Bruker BIOSPEC 70/30 spectrometer with a horizontal magnet, making it possible to carry out magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging in vivo on animals (from mice to rabbits), and an NMR Bruker AvanceII 600 spectrometer combined with a high-resolution liquid chromatography team and a mass spectrometer. Both pieces of equipment will have various applications, especially in the field of biomedical research. In total, the UAB has invested €3 million in the equipment purchased and the work carried out to make room for it.

The BIOSPEC 70/30 spectrometer and the AvanceII 600 LC-NMR/MS cost approximately €1.5 million and €900,000 respectively, and were funded between the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF, project UNAB05-33-008), the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (PCT-020400-2005-19 and PCT-010000-2006-14), the Catalan Government and the University itself. The facilities needed to be enlarged to accommodate the new equipment, and this was funded entirely by the UAB. The work is expected to be completed by May 2007, with the equipment being installed in June.

The BIOSPEC 70/30 is very similar to magnetic resonance equipment used for clinical purposes, and makes it possible to carry out magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy on small animals. This will be the first equipment of its kind in Catalonia and the third in Spain. The equipment at the UAB will include an ultra-shielded and refrigerated superconducting magnet with a 30cm bore diameter and new-generation electronics with more powerful amplifiers, steeper gradients and double synthesising waves. The BIOSPEC 70/30 will be set up for a wide variety of experiments for the detection of different nuclei, and will make it possible to obtain high-resolution and high-quality images. Because of the equipment's sensitivity, it will be set up inside a Faraday cage to protect it from external electromagnetic interference.

The AvanceII 600 LC-NMR/MS is aimed more towards basic research. It will be the first equipment in Spain to combine integrally magnetic resonance techniques, liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. It will include an ultra-shielded and superconducting 14-tesla magnet and new-generation electronics. The liquid chromatograph to which it will be joined will separate the samples into different fractions, and these will then be analysed using a mass spectrometer and the NMR spectrometer.

This easy-to-upgrade equipment has many applications and will be very useful for biomedical research. The BIOSPEC 70/30 will, for example, enable researchers to advance their research into cancer, neurological diseases, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions and disorders through MR studies on animal models. Obviously it will also be possible to study plants used in agrigenomics. Furthermore, the AvanceII 600 LC-NMR/MS spectrometer will make it possible to work with libraries of compounds for pharmacological applications and to analyse liquid samples in the field of proteomics and metabonomics (analysing changes in the metabolism of animals to diagnose diseases earlier and more accurately), as well as food samples.

Since it was opened in 1982, the SeRMN has served the UAB research community and any external users from other research institutions and businesses.

Octavi López Coronado | alfa
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