Multimillion-euro investment in molecular structure research

The University of Jyväskylä purchased an NMR spectrometer that cost nearly two million euros. There is only one similar device in Finland.
The new NMR spectrometer, located in the Nanoscience Center laboratory, went into service in June 2016. The device yields information about the composition and structure of the substance being examined.
With this new device we can now measure especially the NMR spectres of large molecules such as proteins, says Senior Lecturer Elina Sievänen from the Department of Chemistry.
– We investigate how amino acids interact with each other and which of them are essential for the functioning of the protein. We can also specify and analyse three-dimensional structures in solutions.
The device is a basic instrument of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometry. The magnetic field of this NMR spectrometer is a strong one with 18.8 teslas. In Finland, only the University of Helsinki has a similar device.
–The stronger the magnetic field of the device is, the more complex and larger molecules can be examined with it, explains Professor Perttu Permi from the Department of Biological and Environmental Science.
Professor Permi and his research team are interested in non-structural proteins, in particular.
–There is a large group of proteins that lack a well-organised three-dimensional structure. They shift from one conformation to another so quickly that they cannot be described by any single model.
Non-structural proteins are associated with several diseases, such as MS, cancer and diabetes as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
–For example, three quarters of the proteins associated with cancer are non-structural ones.
It is possible to influence the non-structural proteins, Permi believes. Yet, before we can do it, we must first find out which amino acids play a crucial role in their origin.

More on the Permi NMR Lab