Oxford Instruments has won a €3 million order from Thermo Electron for the supply of superconducting magnets that will be used in the latter's recently introduced Finnigan LTQ-FT mass spectrometer.
The Finnigan LTQ-FT has brought Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometer (FTMS) technology, a highly complex tool, into routine pharmaceutical and biochemical research. Oxford has been named the primary supplier of the magnets used in the system.
One of the most important applications of the new system will be the determination of protein structure and function to assist in the advancement of new drug discovery, diagnostic and therapeutic solutions.
Dr Andrew Mackintosh, Oxford Instruments' CEO, said: "we believe that the new FTMS technology is becoming a more widely accepted technique in both pharmaceutical laboratories as well as research institutes and universities for the study of a wide range of biochemical processes applied to areas such as proteomics."
"We expect the total FTMS market to grow significantly over the next five years," he added.
The company also believes that the new technology will create significant opportunities to supply its products to a wide market of research laboratories and instrument manufacturers, building on its leading position in the related field of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) magnet technology.
Also this week, Oxford announced that two of the world's most powerful NMR magnets have now been successfully installed at state-of-the-art NMR facilities in Japan. These 900MHz superconducting magnets are at the heart of Varian's Inova NMR spectrometer and with a field strength of over 21 Tesla the new magnets provide an increase in field strength of more than 11 per cent, compared to earlier-generation systems.
"This is more than 400,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field and opens up new research opportunities for scientists in Japan," said Oxford in a statement, adding that a primary application will be the high resolution, structural identification of biological macromolecules.
The 900 MHz NMR magnet systems will be used particularly to study the three-dimensional structure, function and dynamics of proteins, nucleic acids, and other biological macromolecules.
The increased magnetic field will provide better spectral resolution, improved sensitivity and a 20 per cent increase in signal to noise, said Oxford, adding that "this will enable scientists in Japan to develop a deeper understanding of the actual structure of target molecules and their spatial relationships with candidate pharmaceutical compounds. "