European researchers launch 10 Million Euro collaborative technology project

10-03-2004

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The European Commission has given Europe a huge boost in the field of Structural Genomics, awarding a 10 Million Euro grant for the development of an integrated project called "BIOXHIT." The project aims to create a common platform throughout Europe for researchers working in the field of "biological crystallography."

BIOXHIT stands for "Biocrystallography on a Highly Integrated Technology Platform" for European Structural Genomics. The goal is to take the best of current technologies at major European centres for research in structural biology, develop them further and weave them into a single platform that integrates and standardises the best of current technology and spread it throughout Europe.

All European synchrotron facilities are implemented in this project, which, in total, includes over twenty partners from nine European countries. The EMBL-Hamburg will coordinate the integrated project. BIOXHIT combines a strongly focused research programme with networking, training and mobility of staff under a single and efficient management structure.

Biological crystallography aims to create precise, three-dimensional "architectural" models of biological molecules. Without such models at hand, it is practically impossible to understand biological processes, for instance the way proteins and other molecules behave in cells, or to design new drugs that will affect their functions. The most common method for obtaining such three-dimensional models is to bombard crystallised proteins with high-powered X-rays generated at huge synchrotron facilities such as the ESRF.