With the world’s largest superconducting magnet, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital aims to advance structural biology research. Operating at 1.1 GHz, the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer will reveal previously unseen attributes of molecular biological systems. With this new installation, St. Jude will have NMR spectrometers operating at 400 MHz, 500 MHz, 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 850 MHz and 1.1 GHz.

“This new addition will allow us to study biological systems that have been impossible. It's about having the right tool, the power and the resolution to go after these biological systems.”

-Babis Kalodimos, PhD, Chair of the Structural Biology Department

Transcript of video

Okay, so, so what you see here, this is the most powerful magnet, superconducting magnet, in the world. Operates at the frequency of 1.1 gigahertz. This new addition will allow us to study biological systems that today have been impossible, so it's about of having the right tool, the power, and the resolution to go after these biological systems.

This is very important, right because now, everybody knows that St. Jude is fully actually committed to investing in new technologies, being the first ones that get our hands and then test these new technologies. It's great also for St. Jude because a thing that will advance our research and that's very important, address biological questions, and then of course we all hope that one day, we can translate this one to actual cures for catastrophic diseases for kids.

The NMR Spectrometer will allow our scientists to explore:

  • Biomolecules, including proteins and the interior of cells
  • The molecular details of key biological processes, such as cell signaling and death, and DNA repair
  • Protein kinases and molecular chaperones involved in cancer and neurological diseases
  • Protein folding and misfolding
  • Phase separation
  • The detailed structures of proteins involved in these processes can be leveraged to help design new medicines, materials and diagnostic procedures.

Transcript of video

Using NMR requires placing a biological sample inside a magnet with a very strong magnetic field. With radio and magnetic waves passing through it, the molecular sample emits signals that are then read by the spectrometer. Evaluating the signals can give researchers an idea of the three-dimensional shape of the molecule and how it might change in response to certain drugs. Researchers may then be able to develop more effective drugs to treat childhood cancer.

The 1.1 GHz instrument was extensively tested in Zurich by St. Jude researchers. The lab of Richard Kriwacki, PhD, collected data that were included in a Molecular Cell paper focusing on how toxic peptides associated with amyothrophic lateral sclerosis associate with a natural human protein. Read the findings.

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