NTU and EMBL remote X-ray scattering experiment a success
Nanyang Technological University’s School of Biological Science (SBS) has partnered the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Hamburg to conduct successfully a remotely controlled Solution X-Ray Scattering (SAXS) experiment. The experiment was initiated from SBS in Singapore at 4.10pm – 6pm on 26 May 2009 and conducted at EMBL in Hamnburg, Germany. The remote experimental set-up was developed by EMBL, Hamburg, SAXS group.
Already, preliminary results have given important input to research at SBS, paving the way to how SAXS experiments will be conducted in future. The success of the experiment led by NTU SBS’s Associate Professor G. Grüber (SBS) and EMBL, SAXS group’s Dr. D. Svergun demonstrated how this unconventional experiment will allow scientists to control and conduct their research without being actually present at the facility where the synchrotron is located. This saves precious resources on travelling time and costs and scientists can now concentrate on data interpretation.
Knowledge gained from previous SAXS experiments have been credited for the structure determination of the vacuolar ATPase proton pump, which has been proven as a contributing factor in multiple diseases pertinent in our society including osteoporosis, deafness, malaria, encephalitis, yellow fever, HIV-infection and cancer.
In 2008, Associate Professor G. Grüber and Associate Professor J. Lescar of SBS have collaborated with the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, Singapore to use SAXS in determining the structure of the NS3 protein from the Dengue virus. This revelation promises to give further insight into the development of treatments for future Dengue outbreaks in the region.
Accompanying this breakthrough in remote SAXS experimentation was a series of workshops and tutorials that spanned across two days making up Southeast Asia’s first practical course in SAXS.
SAXS experts from EMBL Hamburg and lecturers from all over the world, were brought together to train scientists from Singapore and Southeast Asia in the emerging area of SAXS, which has enjoyed a renaissance in the last fifteen years to become a major technique in structural biology and material sciences. Ultimately the objective would be to conduct similar programmes every two years, making a stronger headway in the field of SAXS by educating potential researchers in this area.
With the SAXS experiment and concurrent course, Nanyang Technological University continues to push the envelope in research development by reinforcing its status as a leading university dedicated to nurturing creative leaders in the fields of science and technology.
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