Mass spectrometry and NMR have been around for a long time, but the ability to use them on molecules as large as proteins was something most scientists considered impossible. This year’s Nobel prize Laureates showed that it could in fact be done! Their methods quickly turned out to be outstanding and have been further developed by other researchers to increase our understanding of the complicated life processes. To understand, we need to see – this year’s Nobel prize has given us sharper sight.
Mass spectrometry has recently been reported as a successful method for early diagnosis of malaria. Different forms of cancer, such as breast, prostate and ovarian cancer, can also be discovered much earlier than with present-day methods.
NMR is used in the pharmaceutical industry for determining the structure of proteins and other macromolecules that can be of interest as target molecules for new drugs. It is also possible to find out what small molecules bind to a given protein, thus making them into candidates for new drugs. The picture shows HIV protease with a molecule (in green) that blocks its function.