Argonne preps $34.5M drug research lab to support protein projects

The Argonne National Laboratory has begun construction of a $34.5 million facility that will offer researchers near its home base in Illinois and around the world some cutting edge technology to support their lab work on proteins. The blueprints call for a 50,000-square-foot center which will offer robotics support to accelerate protein crystallization, with a key focus on new antibiotics.

Crystallizing proteins with contemporary technology can be a slow and laborious effort, says Andrzej Joachimiak, director of the structural biology center at Argonne. For every 100 attempts, only one or two usable crystals typically form. "It's a very low-probability event," he adds. "We've designed the APCF to shorten the time it takes from producing a protein to making viable crystals from it."

 The facility is slated to come online in 2014 and will house some 550 researchers and support staffers.

"If you know the 3-D structure of a given protein," says Carol Giometti, director of the biosciences division, "you can work more efficiently to come up with drugs that will interact with that protein. If that protein is involved in a disease, you can accelerate the development of a drug to fight it by knowing where the sites on the protein are for that drug to attach to and interfere with it. You could use computational methods to predict what's going to happen, but the bottom line is that you're going to need to prove it experimentally, and that's what the APCF will permit us to do."

- here's the Argonne release
- read the story from Patch

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