In recent years drugs have been designed to combat a range of viruses including human influenza, rhinoviruses (primary cause of the common cold) and HIV.
These drugs have all been developed by structure-based design using synchrotron radiation technology to identify structures of potential drug target molecules.
Accelerating electrons to produce beams of light 10,000 times brighter than that which can be obtained in the laboratory, synchrotrons can be used to study the structure of proteins and other biological molecules at the atomic level.
Synchrotron radiation technology has dramatically decreased the time it takes scientists to resolve protein structures from years or even decades down to a matter of hours.
To celebrate and communicate the current research and future applications of synchrotron technology the 9th International Conference on Biology and Synchrotron Radiation will be held in the UK in August 2007.
The conference will bring together the world’s leaders in and suppliers to this field, already it has attracted speakers with international recognition including Professor Johann Deisenhofer of Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the USA; Professor Janos Hajdu based in Sweden at Uppsala Universitet; and from Japan, Professor Shigeyuki Yokoyama, RIKEN Genomic Sciences Centre.
In the next two years the UK and France will benefit from the addition of two brand 3rd generation synchrotron radiation sources - public access facilities available to the general research community. Diamond will open in Oxfordshire, UK in 2007 and SOLEIL in Paris this year.
Professor Samar Hasnain, CCLRC, who is organizing the event jointly with Professor Dame Louise Johnson of Diamond Light Source, stated that, "we are expecting over 800 delegates to attend from all corners of the globe. The future of synchrotron technology lies in the sharing of research and knowledge."
Dame Louise added, "With routine access to synchrotron facilities both academic and industrial scientists can experience increased research opportunities in the field of biology and in particular drug discovery."
"The conference will provide a platform for harnessing knowledge and exploring the next steps in the development of synchrotron technology, such as methods for examining fragile crystals of membrane proteins and methods for cell imaging."