Researchers at the University of Virginia have established new guidelines for scientists to help us better understand how our cells use metals such as iron and magnesium, to maintain good health. Guidelines ultimately benefit from fighting diseases such as cancer, can help in the development of new drugs and ensure the accuracy of the scientific results and can be replicated.
New protocols are intended to help scientists in the field of X-ray crystallography to avoid potential pitfalls that may inadvertently jeopardize their work. X-ray crystallography reveals things much smaller than the scientist, using a traditional light microscope. It works a bit like the sonar - scientists send X-rays into molecules, then measured the angles, when X-rays bounce off or 'diffracted'. They can then use this information to calculate the shape of its goal.
New technical guidelines from the team led by Wladek Little, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia Medical School, aimed at preventing errors during the process.
"Compilation of best practices and potential pitfalls for the exact characteristics of the metal binding sites in any protein or virus - not an easy task, and requires years of experience and efforts of many researchers from different areas", - said Minor. "We hope that our work will improve the quality and reliability of the research, which include the processing of samples containing metal, and ultimately contribute to improve the reproducibility of studies in academic and commercial environments."
Minor, which is already the author of one of the most cited scientific works of all time, noted that metals play an important role in many biological and cellular processes. "For example, in the human circulatory system, - he said - serum albumin transports the zinc and the iron in hemoglobin is critical for the transport of oxygen to all the cells, and magnesium is a component of many enzymes."
In addition, there are a class of anti-cancer drugs, based on the metal. Therefore, it is important that we understand exactly how the body interacts with metals.