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Paper chromatogram scanner LB 280, Europe, 1980-1989

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Used for paper chromatography, this machine was modified to become a piece of equipment known as a radioactivity paperstrip scanner. The results were printed out from the paper-fed panel on the left. The University of Oxford Glycobiology Unit carried out the modification in order to perform experiments to determine the sequence of polysaccharides. These are the huge sugars which are found attached to proteins, for instance on the surface of cells. The polysaccharides on cell surfaces can differ between people and over time, and can predispose for immune conditions such as arthritis. The apparatus was donated to the Science Museum’s collections by the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. The group under Professor Raymond Dwek pioneered methods of automated analysis of these sugar groups. Their work underpinned Oxford’s first commercial spin-off company, Oxford GlycoSystems, in which the University kept a shareholding. Professor Dwek himself coined the word ‘glycobiology’ in 1988.

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Glossary: chromatography equipment

No description.

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Inflammation of joints; swelling, pain and decreased mobility are typical symptoms.

Glossary: immune

To be protected against infectious disease.

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A method of separating the different components of a chemical mixture. This allows a person to identify what components were in the mixture

Glossary: protein

Proteins are large organic compounds made of amino acids. They are essential to all living cells and organisms.

Glossary: cell

Basic unit of all living organisms, it can reproduce itself exactly.