Danish-Swedish Microscope Alliance to Strengthen Nordic Life Sciences – University of Copenhagen

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22 January 2018

Danish-Swedish Microscope Alliance to Strengthen Nordic Life Sciences

Protein

Nobel Prize-winning microscope for protein research in Copenhagen will contribute to strengthening Nordic research into new medicine. Leading protein researchers from four universities in Denmark and Sweden have now established the CryoNet collaboration, which will use the so-called cryo-electron microscope in their research. The project has received 2 million euros in funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Professor Guillermo Montoya, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research; Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Dean Ulla Wewer, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences in front of the Cryo-Electron microscope.

Four universities in Denmark and Sweden – the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Stockholm University and Umeå University – have formed a research alliance which, using a so-called cryo-electron microscope, will be looking for new molecules and protein structures that may form the basis of new drugs for treating e.g. dementia, obesity, diabetes and cancer.

Technology with Great Potential
Protein research is a promising field within the development of drugs, and here the cryo-electron microscope playsa main role. Within structuralbiology the microscope is considered revolutionary and the technology behind it received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017.

The microscope uses electron beams which are focussed with sharp lenses to make the structures of biomolecules very clear in high-resolution 3D images. The new technology allows the researchers to visualise with great accuracy how the cells’ internal machinery works and how pathogenic molecules, including proteins, protein DNA and multi-protein complexes, can be targeted with drugs.

Nordic Collaboration with Global Impact
In CryoNet the researchers from the four universities will now share knowledge about their research with the microscope, which is located at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences in Copenhagen. In addition to knowledge sharing, CryoNet will hold regular seminars and provide instruction in the findings and functions of the microscope in order to introduce researchers from all over the world to the new technology. 

‘I am very enthusiastic about the foundations’ large donations for the collaboration. By establishing a strong Nordic alliance centred around the microscope we strengthen our already acknowledged position within protein research. I am sure CryoNet will help us reach new milestones in the field’, says Professor Guillermo Montoya from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research.

Watch a film with Professor Guillermo Montoya about the cryo-electron microscope here:

The video is produced by Computerome.

Great Support for Nordic Protein Research
The project has received a total of 2 million euros in funding for the next four years from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

“These are truly exciting times for protein science. Cryo-electron microscopy has opened up completely new possibilities for understanding the architecture and function of proteins. We are pleased and excited to partner with the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation to launch CryoNet and add further momentum to pushing cryo-electron microscopy to the forefront of Nordic life science research”, says CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Birgitte Nauntofte.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has previously provided DKK 60 million in funding for setting up the cryo-electron microscope.

Read the press release from the Novo Nordisk Foundation here. 

Contact information

Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research
Professor Guillermo Montoya
Phone: +45 51 32 45 81
E-mail: guillermo.montoya@cpr.ku.dk 

Novo Nordisk Foundation
Christian Mostrup Scheel, Senior Press Officer
Phone: +45 3067 4805
E-mail: cims@novo.dk 

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Carina Dahlberg, Communicator, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Phone + 46 70 273 68 50
E-mail: 
carina.dahlberg@wfab.se