Structural Biology on the Move

Imagine working on a car engine to introduce modifications that could improve its function, or fixing it when it’s broken, without knowing its structure and the organization of its various parts. Structural Biology includes all the techniques that allow to “visualize biological molecules”, to understand their function and possibly engineer them torestore their function when they stop working, as in the case of various diseases. Unfortunately, investigating the fine details of molecules is not an easy task: there are no conventional optical tools that allow direct observation of molecules. Therefore, scientists developed non-conventional strategies to overcome this limitation: electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography are the most widely used. At present, we are experiencing a very exciting moment in the development of novel methodologies for the structural investigation of molecules. These methodologies will soon enable a “revolution” in molecular observation. This article reports on the technical evolution of these methodologies and describes the state of the art in structural investigation of biological molecules.