3 Apr 2014 Athens - At the 2nd International Conference for Research Infrastructures - ICRI 2014 - in Athens, Greece, Primeur Magazine had the opportunity to interview Goran Karlsson, Director of the Swedish NMR Centre, from Gothenburg in Sweden about NMR for personalized medicine, a scientific discipline that needs a lot of computing.
NMR spectroscopy is an advanced method that can be applied in Life Science research. Scientists can use it to determinte the structure of the smallest machines in the cells: the proteins. Then they will tell us and help us understand how cells work. For that purpose scientists need an NMR magnet and they can then also with the help of NMR experiments and a tremendous amount of computational power obtain the structure of proteins. - and as Dr. Karlsson said - that will help scientists understand how they work.
So this is one example how we can use NMR spectroscopy in Life Science. But Dr. Karlsson showed another example: on the screen he showed the NMR-sample of 10 individuals, they are coloured in different colours: red, blue, pink, green, and so on and they are super-imposed in this spectra, the spectra are from the serum of these people and researchers can see then that there is variaton in the peak-height, meaning that the composition of the serum, the concentration of the small metabolytes differ between the individuals. The question is what kind of information can researchers obtain from these variations? Well, they can then use again advanced computational methods to try to understand what it means.
In this particular case the blood samples were taken from patients that were diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. The samples were taken at the day of the diagnosis before any treatment was given. After that the regular treatment was given and the patients were followed up. Some of them were cured, they are green in the picture, some of them were not cured, they suffer from relaps, they are blue in the picture. This means that the NMR technique and also the computational powers can help researchers to obtain a tool that tells them which patients will become cured from the cancer treatment and which will not, so they maybe should be given a harsher treatment. This is of course a way towards personalized medicine.
This tells scientists that NMR spectroscopy in combination with computational powers - and as Dr. Karlsson assured, you need a vast amount of computational power to do this - can really help towards a better future.
If you like to help with this kind of research, you should think about help funding these clusters and networks that work for computational power, for instance the IDGF network.