New machine at DMU could help early detection of diseases

A £500,000 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) machine at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) will help scientists fighting life-threatening diseases.

NMR machine

One of the most powerful of its kind in the country, the new NMR facility is able to detect early signs of conditions such as diabetes, and can also help to test anti-cancer drugs being developed in the labs.

Professor Martin Grootveld is one of the academics who will be using it for his research.

He said: “We can use the instrument to test samples of body fluids, such as blood plasma, saliva or urine, to detect unusual patterns of molecules which could indicate the early onset of diseases, such as diabetes. It can also be used to monitor the progress and effectiveness of drugs in disease treatments.

“With the new facility we will be able to see signals that you wouldn’t see on a weaker machine and get a much better picture of what’s going on.”

NMR is a technique used by a wide range of scientific disciplines to find out what is in a chemical compound. It works using a powerful magnet and radio waves to monitor spin properties of the nuclear centres of atoms, and provides a pattern from the characteristic signals of the molecules being tested. It can analyse up to 200 molecules simultaneously in complex samples such as human urine.  

Ketan using NMR

Technicians Dr Ketan Ruparelia and Shamima Choudhury will be overseeing the day-to-day operation of the NMR machine. Ketan explained how it will help research:

“This will have a great impact on the staff and students who are using this instrument for their research because of the amount of information we will get from even very low concentrations of molecules in solutions.

“Once we have made molecules in the laboratory, such as anti-cancer drugs, we can use the NMR machine to test them and work out the purity of what we have developed,” he said.

The NMR equipment will be used mostly by academic staff, postgraduate and PhD students.

NMR plaque

Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Simon Oldroyd officially unveiled the new machine at an event at the Heritage Centre on Wednesday 6 November, giving guests a first-look at the instrument in operation.

The event kicked off with the unveiling of a plaque to mark the occasion by Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Simon Oldroyd.

He said: “This inauguration continues the story of NMR at DMU, we’ve got a long, proud history of NMR at this university. The new facility will give us increased capacity for research and help us bring new researchers to the faculty.”

Posted on Monday 11 November 2019

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