ASU research makes Science's top 10 breakthroughs

Mon, 2013-01-14

ASU scientists have been lauded by the journal Science, which cited their groundbreaking research on protein structures as one of the top 10 breakthroughs of 2012.

Working as part of an international team, the ASU researchers have been central to the technological developments leading to a stream of exciting discoveries since 2009 – the most recent of which were reported in a November 2012 edition of Science.

For the first time, the scientists determined the three dimensional structure of a protein by the method of femtosecond nanocrystallography, a highly innovative technique that was developed by the team at ASU and their collaborators using X-ray laser diffraction from the LCLS free-electron laser.

Contradictory to popular opinion, this technique successfully demonstrates that high quality data can be acquired so quickly that reaction chemistry involving proteins can now be studied in real time. This method goes well beyond form, but goes into function where changes in a molecule can be seen in action.

“The ASU team is one of the pioneers of the method of fs crystallography," said ASU Regents' Professor John Spence. "Our work includes the design of a sample delivery system, the identification and discovery of nanocrystals, as well as the development of the theory and computer algorithms used to analyze the data. The method is so exciting as its further development will allow us to determine movies of molecular machines at work."  Read more here 


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