Although many diseases have been eradicated or brought under control in the past century or two, public health will always be a major societal challenge. Increased life expectancy has caused a surge in age-related conditions, chronic disease and disability, while developing countries still suffer the burden of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. As the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated, it is extremely difficult to contain highly contagious diseases in our global mobile society. It is therefore vital that we prepare for future health challenges while continuing our efforts to address current health issues.
A thorough understanding of the complex biological processes that underlie health and disease is the key to progress in this field. Thanks to their unique properties, neutrons can provide precise information on hydrogen atoms and hydrogen bonding, knowledge that is crucial for understanding the biological function of enzymes and for improving drug efficiency, delivery and formulation. Pharmaceutical companies, like AstraZeneca, BioNTech and NUVISCAN, use neutrons at ILL as a part of their analytical toolbox.