Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have succeeded for the first time in recording a light-driven sodium pump from bacterial cells in action. The findings promise progress in developing new methods in neurobiology. The researchers used the new X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL for their investigations.
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, together with colleagues from the pharmaceutical company F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, have taken an important step towards the development of an active substance against the metastasis of certain cancers. Using the Swiss Light Source SLS, they deciphered the structure of a receptor that plays a crucial role in the migration of cancer cells.
Using the Swiss Light Source SLS, PSI researchers have recorded a molecular energy machine in action and thus revealed how energy production at cell membranes works. For this purpose, they developed a new investigative method that could make the analysis of cellular processes significantly more effective than before.
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have an important part of the regulatory cycle that is involved in the formation and degradation of the cytoskeleton. Among other things, they have watched molecular scissors at work.
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have elucidated an important part of a siganalling pathway that transmits information through the cell membrane into the interior of a cell. This exists in all mammals and plays an important role, among other things, in the regulation of the heartbeat. The new findings could lead to new therapies.
Gebhard Schertler is head of the research division Biology and Chemistry at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and professor for Structural Biology at ETH Zurich. In this interview he talks about biological research at PSI and the future of drug development.
Using X-ray laser technology, a team led by researchers of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI has recorded one of the fastest processes in biology. In doing so, they produced a molecular movie that reveals how the light sensor retinal is activated in a protein molecule. Such reactions occur in numerous organisms. The movie shows for the first time how a protein efficiently controls the reaction of the embedded light sensor.
With the X-ray laser SwissFEL, researchers at PSI want to produce movies of biomolecules in action. This can reveal how our eyes function or how new drugs work.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 has been awarded to Jacques Dubochet of Switzerland, U.S.-based German scientist Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson of the United Kingdom for the development of structural analysis of single biological molecules by means of cryo-electron microscopy. The awarding of the prize underscores the fundamental significance of structural analysis of biomolecules for modern biology – a research area where the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI plays a leading role in Switzerland.