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Drug discovery is a long, complex, and expensive process. Information related to the three-dimensional structure of macromolecular drug targets and their ligands plays a central role from drug target identification up to lead optimisation.
The use of synchrotrons is now routine in the drug discovery industry and Diamond offers world-leading facilities that combine cutting-edge technical instrumentation, essential for de novo structure solution and the study of protein ligand interactions, with the latest developments in automation required to accelerate lead identification and ligand screening processes.
While X-ray crystallography remains a key tool to characterise macromolecules, small molecules, complexes and ligand binding, the use of complementary techniques such as electron microscopy, circular dichroism and small angle X-ray scattering is increasingly leading to a more complete understanding of the process in question. Electron microscopy has recently emerged as an alternative method to crystallography, providing structural information of macromolecules at similar resolution. Circular dichroism and small angle X-ray scattering are both excellent techniques to investigate the size, stability and conformation of macromolecules (and complexes) in solution.
Fragment Screening Platform
Solution Protein Characterisation Platform
Electron Microscopy Platform
Following the emergence of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in late 2019 which quickly developed into a pandemic, the race soon began to discover more about the virus and prevent its spread.
Building on the knowledge gained from the SARS outbreak in 2003, it is hoped that by studying the structure of the proteins in SARS-CoV-2 scientists will identify potential lead compounds and develop therapies to prevent viral infection and replication.
T-cell receptors (TCRs) are protein complexes found on the surface
of human T-cells responsible for recognising a large variety of
antigen peptides. When a TCR binds to a specific antigen it triggers
an immune response that is part of the adaptive immune system
and prevents the growth of pathogens.
There is great interest in using this natural defence system for
cancer immunotherapy by producing modified TCRs that bind
cancer antigens and activate an immune response against
The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide, annual influenza epidemics result in about 3-5 million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths. Influenza A viruses are the most common cause of seasonal flu in humans and represent a significant risk to public health.
When the influenza virus infects a host cell, it starts to make copies of itself as the disease spreads. The protein driving this behaviour is the viral RNA polymerase which replicates the viral RNA genome and makes RNA templates for protein synthesis. In order to understand how this process works, you need to work out the structure of the RNA polymerase at the atomic level.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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