Bacteria stand out under ultra-sensitive NMR

Categorie(s) : News, Research

Published : 6 October 2013

Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP)—which increases the sensitivity of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) by anywhere from 10 to 1,000 times—is once again making headlines. It was used by scientists from INAC and IBS to observe the cell walls of living bacteria, versus the conventional technique of looking at wall samples taken from a cell. This breakthrough could lead to the development of new antibiotics.

In traditional NMR, a cell wall’s signal is difficult to distinguish from that of the rest of the cell. That’s why scientists have to work with cell wall samples. But by using a free radical as a polarizing agent that preferentially attaches to the cell wall, scientists can obtain important information about the wall’s structure, dynamics, and in vivo interactions with the rest of the cell.

Contact: Sabine Hediger,



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