The CCITUB will have a new NMR equipment thanks to the NextGeneration fund. The ICTS-2021 call was provisionally resolved on October 21th of 2021, and the GigaRMN project will be funded with 8.9 million euros for the acquisition of this new NMR spectrometer of 1 GigaHz (1000 MHz).
The new equipment will be the first of its kind in Spain, and one of the first in Europe, and will be installed in the Barcelona node of the distributed NMR ICTS (Infraestructuras Científicas y Técnicas Singulares del Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación) which has Dr. Miquel Pons as scientific coordinator. These new equipment, like the existing high-field equipment at the ICTS, will be open to the entire scientific community through open competitive access.
The new NMR spectrometer will be equipped with one or more probes that will operate with low-temperature electronics to further increase sensitivity. The sustainability of the equipment will also be considered by incorporating a system of continuous recycling of liquid helium used to maintain the intense magnetic field.
The installation of the new equipment will be accompanied by the installation of a comprehensive management system for the huge amount of data that will be generated.
NMR equipment, such as the one that will now be installed in Barcelona, represents the first commercial application of this new technology that is expected to end up revolutionizing many other aspects of our lives, such as transportation and electricity generation, renewable energies, or the availability of cheaper and more accessible medical magnetic resonance imaging devices.
A significant gain in sensitivity is achieved at high magnetic fields, and allows proteins to be studied at much lower concentrations than with current equipment. Such high magnetic fields (23 T, 522.222 times the Earth's magnetic field) require new technology based on high-temperature superconductors. In Catalonia there is one of the most important centers in the world in this field.
The resolution gained with the high magnetic field is especially important for the study of proteins with disordered regions. These proteins account for 2/3 of human proteins and about 80% of the proteins in which their malfunction is related to cancers, neurodegenerative diseases or metabolic disorders. Many of the viral proteins, such as the SARS-Cov2 proteins, have disordered regions.
Other applications, in addition to those already discussed in disordered proteins, include the study of interactions between drugs and their targets as well as the study of proteins that, by themselves, are similar to drugs (such as antibodies).
Beyond biomedical applications, having such powerful magnetic fields opens up possibilities for applications in many other fields of chemistry and physics. In the field of Structural Biology, this new facility will generate synergies with other unique initiatives in Catalonia, such as electron microscopy facilities and the Alba synchrotron, making Barcelona a unique international reference in Southern Europe.
The acquisition of this very high field NMR spectrometer will also provide structural and dynamic information with atomic scale resolution of complex biomolecules.
The equipment has been funded 100% with funds from the European program NextGeneration through a specific call for ICTS, which has made possible to finance the actions that had been included in the strategic plan, evaluated by an international committee and approved in 2018. The funding obtained also covers the complementary actions for its installation and operation in optimal conditions, therefore includes the costs of adaptation of the spaces and the customization of a management program for the data generated by the RMN equipment. It’s important to highlight that is also included an helium evaporation relocation apparatus, which will save energy and natural resources.
The application had the support of 49 institutions, research groups and companies from all over Spain.
The equipment will be installed in the CCiTUB NMR Unit located in the “Parc Científic de Barcelona”, in a unique building designed specifically to house very high-field NMR devices. Within the University of Barcelona this equipment is managed by the CCiTUB, and will be part of the Barcelona node of the distributed NMR ICTS along with the other nodes of the ICTS in Bilbao and Madrid.
Link to the UB new: [+]
* Images provided by PhD. Miquel Pons (UB professor and scientific coordinator of the Barcelona node of the R-LRB ICTS).