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  • Anne Rachupka

Reasons why buying an NMR is often not the best option

Did you know that NMX Research and Solutions offers a professional NMR acquisition service that is simple, reliable, and secure?

uNMR is a same day data acquisition service that offers a wide range of 1D and 2D NMR experiments for medicinal chemists. A courier picks up your samples and delivers them to our NMR site, where we have access to several expertly maintained NMR spectrometers. Our experienced staff will obtain NMR data on your samples and send it directly to your inbox by the end of the day.

uNMR has been in operation in Boston since 2016 and in Montreal since 2020, providing reliable and secure NMR data for medicinal chemists and biotech companies. In addition to routine NMR acquisitions, we also offer structural elucidation services and free-state behavior evaluations (aggregation) in aqueous solutions.

Outside of the Boston or Montreal area? We now have a mail-in service which will allow you to take advantage of uNMR. Contact us for more details.

Why do I need uNMR?

If you are a small biotech or start up company, obtaining access to an NMR is not always easy. Buying an NMR is often not an option because monetary and time costs can be prohibitive. uNMR is a cost-effective and convenient way to obtain your NMR data quickly and securely.

NMRs are expensive.

A basic 400 or 500 MHz system typically costs a half a million dollars or more. Add in a few useful extras like an autosampler or a chiller for low temperature experiments, and the price tag increases further. While used systems are available at a discount, they will not be the latest models or guaranteed to work properly. Keep in mind, magnets have a lifespan of 20-30 years, while consoles, and support equipment significantly less.

Any NMR maintenance budget must include the purchase of cryogenic liquids. Most magnets require liquid nitrogen fills every 7-14 days. While it is easy to obtain liquid nitrogen, liquid helium can be challenging. Many large institutions and universities have priority deals with liquid helium suppliers, promising them helium first if there is a shortage. If you don’t have priority and there is a limited supply, you may run the risk of quenching your magnet. Plus, liquid helium prices can fluctuate significantly. When 100 liters is needed every 2-4 months, that cost can add up quickly.

Space considerations.

NMRs have space, vibration, power, compressed air, and temperature control requirements. Even small fluctuations in room temperature can cause shimming issues. Upgrading a room to meet an NMR’s requirements can be costly. Ideally, NMRs should be located on the ground floor because building vibrations can be observed in the spectra.

If your company decides to move in a few years, NMRs are costly to relocate and can be damaged in the process. The magnet needs to be carefully brought down from field and reenergized in its new home.

What about troubleshooting, skills, and time?

If an NMR tube breaks inside the magnet, or a tube is “divebombed” and the probe damaged, it may be best to call in a service technician. Most NMR manufacturers offer service plans, but they too can be costly. Service calls also take time to schedule, meaning the NMR may be unavailable for days or weeks.

NMRs require a “caretaker,” someone who is comfortable performing weekly nitrogen fills and other routine maintenance, such as updating shim files, probe files, and pulse calibrations. All these tasks take time, and if something as simple as the non-spinning shims are off, an otherwise working system becomes unusable.

Making NMR simple for the Med-Chem workflow

uNMR is the fastest and most economical way for a small biotech or start-up company to obtain access to high quality NMR data.

If you would like more information about uNMR and the services that we offer, please check out the uNMR website or contact us.

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