The National Institutes of Health have approved a $2 million grant that will allow six central and western New York colleges to buy a high tech piece of equipment to assist in research projects. YNN's Bill Carey says the people on the receiving end of the grant say it could mean progress in research on everything from making stronger buildings to fighting HIV/AIDS.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For some time researchers, especially in the medical field, have known that the closer they can look at things, like the molecules that make up a disease, the better the chances of finding new ways to attack those illnesses.
One of the tools in that effort is something called a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. It basically uses magnetic fields to scan molecules and tell researchers about their makeup.
Currently, at SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, there is a 600 megahertz NMR at work. Now, that school, along with five other colleges, will receive a $2 million federal grant to buy a more powerful 800 megahertz version of the machine.
"Not only will it greatly accelerate ongoing research due to its much higher sensitivity and resolution, it will also allow us to study much larger molecules, thereby providing essential information into the mechanism of how malfunctioning proteins contribute to human disease states," said Dr. Stephan Wilkens of Upstate Medical University.
Dr. Fran Webster is a professor of chemistry at SUNY ESF. He says the impact will be huge.
"It allows you to identify new compounds. So if you're working in an area where you're looking at small molecules, you might be looking for new drugs. These tend to be small molecules that we find in nature," said Webster.
Dr. Philip Borer from Syracuse University is hoping for a breakthrough. For years, he's been struggling to study a key protein that allows development of HIV/AIDS. He is optimistic that, given some recent progress in his lab, the new machine could be the key to finding ways to keep the protein from encouraging other elements of HIV to develop.
"So if we can determine the three dimensional aspects of this interaction, that opens the door for scientists to design drugs to interrupt the interaction and we think that could be a very powerful set of new anti-AIDS drugs," said Dr. Philip Borer, Syracuse University biochemist.
Other researchers are ready to go to work on new ways to battle everything from Alzheimer's to strokes. The new tool in the battle is due to arrive in the fall of 2014.
The new machine will be headquartered at SUNY ESF. The other schools sharing its use are Upstate Medical University, Syracuse University, the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester and Cornell.