Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a tool used by chemists to characterise small molecules. It is however, widely used by biological scientists to study both small and large biomolecules such as proteins and DNA. In this facility, NMR is mainly used to study biological molecules and how they interact with each other.

The NMR samples examined vary from small molecules to proteins, solid samples, cell samples and some synthetic samples. A wide range of homonuclear and heteronuclear one-dimensional and multi- dimensional NMR experiments can be performed including titration studies, VT studies, D2O exchange experiments, 1H, 13C[1H], 31P[1H], 51N[1H], 1D-TOCSY and 1D-ROESY, J-resolved, COSY, DQCOSY, TOCSY, NOESY, DOSY, HMQC, HSQC, HMBC, TOCSY- HMQC, NOESY-HMQC etc. Solid state studies at 500MHz can also be carried out.

Current Research

A large number of research groups use NMR to gather data. Research areas range from enzyme inhibition and protein-drug interactions to cell metabolism and biomarkers to biosynthesis and protein ionisation.

Protease Enzymes

This research uses NMR to study the interaction of synthesised inhibitors with proteases such as thiol, serine, aspartyl and metalloproteases. It is hoped that these studies will help optimise their ability to inhibit the specific proteases involved in a range of diseases such as AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Molecular modelling of GIP

This research utilises NMR to study the structure of glucose- dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), which acts as a major insulin hormone. The long-term aim of this project is to design peptide or non-peptide drugs with potential application in the treatment of diabetes and other related diseases.


This area of research uses NMR to analyse the metabolic profiles of biofluids. The long-term goal of this work is to identify biomarkers of toxicity and disease state.


The facility has standard bore 300 and 500 MHz Bruker NMR spectrometers and a wide range of probes, equipment and software, which can be used to study hydrogen (1H, 2H), carbon (13C), phosphate (31P), nitrogen (15N) and fluorine (19F) in both liquid and solid biological samples. There is also a Varian 600MHz NMR spectrometer which is mainly used for studying metabolomics.

There are a variety of software applications for different environments:

  • NMR spectrometer is controlled by a PC work station. XWIN-NMR version 3.5 and XWIN-PLOT version 3 are used to carry out sampling runs.
  • There are two dedicated personal computers with WINDOWS XP operating system for offline data processing.
  • The facility has access to extensive molecular modeling systems including Tripos Biopolymer suite, with modules related to protein structure calculation. CYANA and PROSA packages are used for NMR based solution structure calculations.

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