Varian launches magnets for routine lab applications

Related tags Molecule

Global supplier of scientific instruments, Varian, have launched
its first premium shielded vertical high-resolution superconducting
magnets designed to reduce stray magnetic fields by up to fivefold
(in volume). Pharmaceutical and academic laboratories are to
benefit by making nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) more accessible
for routine applications.

Magnets of this kind are of great importance to NMR, providing a strong, homogenous magnetic field into which the sample, whether liquid or solid, is placed for non-destructive mapping of molecular structures and learning how molecules function and relate to each other.

Traditional magnets emit stray magnetic fields that can encroach on other analytical instrumentation, thereby restricting the amount of working space in pharmaceutical and academic laboratories. Varian's magnets ensure perimeter space requirements are minimised, reduced by as much as fivefold.

A spokeswoman for Varian told​: "The majority of NMR in drug discovery is used for routine organic chemistry analysis in support of small molecule synthesis, discovery, and natural product analysis."

"NMR is incredibly useful for such applications. However, its use has been restricted by the considerations needed to address issues such as the stray fields emanating from traditional magnets,"

This is an important step toward moving NMR into more routine application laboratories. NMR has traditionally been only accessible to larger, better-financed laboratories, usually in academia. While. the cost of such a technique has been gradually declining, big pharma has been slow to adopt its analytical advantages.

The 500 MHz and 600 MHz premium shielded magnets are integrated with the company's new Varian NMR System and are compatible with its suite of cold and room temperature NMR probes.

"We are aiming this technology at the more routine analytical laboratory chemists who are involved in drug discovery,",​ said the spokewoman.

Varian's magnets have 54-millimeter (mm) internal bores, which are compatible in diameter with the bores of other magnets in the 300 MHz to 900 MHz range, enabling probe development to be centred on one platform.

An NMR probe holds the sample within the bore of the magnet, at the centre of the magnetic field. The wider 54-mm bore allows for greater flexibility in designing new probes and in the future development of NMR systems.

NMR now rivals X-ray crystallography for protein and RNA structure studies and is the preferred non-destructive technique for mapping molecular structures and learning how molecules function and relate to each other. It is also used as a workhorse technology by life science researchers for mixture analysis and small molecule structure elucidation.

An NMR probe holds the molecular sample within the bore of the magnet, at the centre of the magnetic field, and it transmits and detects radiofrequency signals that are then analysed with software to produce structural information.

Varian establish themselves in aa field in which the technology is in its relatively early stage. In late 2004, Varian acquired Magnex Scientific, a major supplier of vertical high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) magnets. Magnex was the first company to develop shielded magnets, known as Superscreened magnets (in the mid 1990's).

While NMR is popular in academic labs, drug developers have been slow to adopt its capabilities. While cost has fallen in recent years, very high-field instruments can cost between $3-7 million. The novelty of high-quality NMR/protein work and the relative scarcity of NMR protein structure expertise is thought to be responsible. The bulk of protein/NMR expertise currently resides at universities that include The Scripps Institute, The NMR Centre at the University of California and the University of Birmingham in the UK.

The NMR market currently is experiencing a transition towards some exciting applications. Varian recently entered into a collaboration with LipoScience, to develop the first NMR system for use in high volume clinical diagnostic testing laboratories.

The lead application is the NMR LipoProfile blood test that has been shown to be superior to LDL-cholesterol in predicting coronary heart disease events.

The Varian​ premium shielded 500MHz and 600MHz magnets are available for immediate order, with delivery within 90 days.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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