Rigaku Americas Corporation is pleased to announce that the University of Dundee, Scotland, has chosen to update their X-ray crystallography facility with the most advanced fully automated protein crystallography system from Rigaku. The new equipment includes the Rigaku MicroMax 007HF generator, a VariMax VHF optic, Saturn 944HG CCD detector and ACTOR robotic sample changer. The new facility will complement their existing Rigaku automated protein crystallization platform.

The new equipment from Rigaku is funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust in support of structural biology and drug discovery. It will be used for research in single crystal X-ray diffraction, the most powerful analytical technique that reveals accurate three-dimensional molecular structures. Knowledge of the structural models can enable understanding of how a molecule can contribute to a biological process or reveal the chemical interactions that are critical for applications relating to the manner in which a drug might work or be improved. With new access to a more intense X-ray source, a more sensitive detector, and robotics to improve efficiency, researchers at Dundee are primed to expand structural studies research addressing important and fundamental aspects of biology together with key issues in human health.

The grant, awarded to Professors William Hunter, Daan van Aalten, David Lilley, Tom Owen-Hughes and Paul Wyatt will support a wide range of projects – from the most challenging studies on nucleic acid structures, multi-protein complexes and enzymes that inform on basic aspects of biology to the characterisation of protein ligand complexes that support early stage medicinal chemistry and drug discovery efforts, that is translational research.

Speaking on behalf of the grant holders Prof. Hunter commented "The decision to purchase from Rigaku was based on several criteria. Our grouping in Dundee requires equipment that would provide excellent in-house data collection including suitable automation, where high throughput is needed in support of early stage drug discovery. We need the capability to obtain highly redundant data for in-house anomalous dispersion phasing and the capacity to test and characterise large numbers of crystals from our more challenging problems in a manner that ensures we can optimise use of synchrotron time. The configuration from Rigaku matched perfectly to our multi-purpose requirements. My very positive experience of support from the company for almost 20 years now also provided a degree of security in the decision."

Since its installation, the new system has managed to significantly boost productivity. Dr Paul Fyfe, Scientific Officer at the University’s College of Life Sciences, enthused, "The users are really starting to enjoy using the new system and they are now beginning to realise just how much can now be done in-house (one group screened well over 100 crystals on Wednesday, in preparation for a synchrotron trip this weekend)."

Dr Mark Benson of Rigaku Europe remarked, "We are thrilled to continue our long relationship with the University of Dundee. We are particularly proud to be able to offer cutting edge equipment that will provide a step change in efficiency of crystal screening and protein structure determination. Having the combination of Rigaku automated protein crystallization and now crystallography equipment will greatly increase the productivity of scientists involved in valuable drug discovery research"