Gallery: Eureka


Magnified crystals from a membrane protein photoreceptor that helps organisms to respond to and harness energy from light

Membrane protein receptors are the biological gatekeepers that carry messages into and between cells. More than 50% of modern drugs currently target proteins in the cell membrane, and they are of pivotal interest to scientists looking to design new antibiotics and other medical treatments for disease. But we need powerful machines like Diamond to study these receptors, because they are so small – many thousands of times smaller than a pinhead.
The black and white image below is an X-ray diffraction image of these same crystals, with the black spots indicating the atomic structure. This pattern, produced at Diamond, was recently used to determine the atomic structure of the protein receptor: information that could allow us to harness this receptor for biotech applications.
Image courtesy of Dr Isabel Moraes (MPL-Diamond), Prof Tony Watts and Dr Peter Judge from University of Oxford.

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