Determining the structure of large biomolecules is critical to many innovations in the fields of health, environment and sustainable technologies. Because structural research requires expensive equipment such as NMR spectrometers, the European Union funds research infrastructure. Beginning in February 2020, an additional € 10 million will be invested in the project iNEXT Discovery. The Centre for Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance (BMRZ) at Goethe University is a part of the project once again.
Currently, the iNEXT Collaboration is made up of 23 partners from 14 European countries. It is the first research infrastructure project combining different structural biological methods: X-ray spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), electron microscopy and biophysical methods. These methods make it possible to decode the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in order to understand their function within the complex machinery of life. The goal is to develop new medicines, improved vaccinations, new biomaterials, biofuels, and enzymes for food production.
BMRZ at Goethe University makes its expertise in NMR spectroscopy available to researchers throughout Europe. Visitors from other countries already use the equipment daily to determine the structures of proteins, RNA and DNA. It is furthermore possible for industrial partners to participate via cooperation contracts in order, for example, to search specifically for active substances. Training programmes will be set up in the next four years for researchers with little previous experience with NMR.
"At BMRZ, we give European scientists access to the currently most powerful NMR technologies. In the next funding period, a 1.2 gigahertz NMR spectrometer will be available," says Professor Harald Schwalbe, Board Member of iNEXT-Discovery. "From 2020 onwards, we expect that 20 user groups annually will come from all over Europe to use our equipment and profit from our experience. In this way, we are all contributing to exciting science."