On the day when beamlines at another European centre are making headlines, everyone working at and making use of the Diamond Light Source (DLS) synchrotron also has cause for celebration. Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, has allocated the funding it needs to enter Phase III of its development, which means that a further ten ‘beamlines’ (i.e. high energy beams of infrared, ultraviolet or X-ray light) will be added to bring the compliment up to 32 by the end of 2017.
Structural biologists use the X-ray producing beamlines to solve the 3D structures of proteins and other biomolecules. One recently published example is the structure of the PFV integrase protein binding to DNA, which was a major breakthrough for researchers interested in understanding the molecular biology behind the replication of retroviruses, including HIV.
This announcement of new funding is a timely one, coming eight years after the Science and Technology Facilities Council and Wellcome Trust launched the joint venture to build and operate the facility.