Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) ushered in a new era of biotechnology research and drug design by enabling atomic-level imaging of drug targets in their near-native states.
For organizations across the public and private sectors, this presents the perfect opportunity to team up and broaden access to state-of-the-art tools, techniques, and expertise.
We’re excited to see biotechnology company Amgen and the University of Southern California (USC) doing just that as they work to accelerate the pace of research and discovery.
Cryo-EM at the Cutting-Edge of Biotechnology Research
Amgen and USC are teaming up to provide researchers with access to two leading-edge Thermo Scientific cryo-transmission electron microscopes (cryo-TEMs): the Thermo Scientific Krios and Glacios Cryo-TEMs.
Housed at the Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience at USC’s University Park Campus, these instruments offer built-in connectivity that will enable researchers from both institutions to increase their disease research productivity. Using these two instruments as part of their workflow, researchers will be able to pre-screen samples at moderate resolutions on the Glacios, and then transfer the best-quality samples for imaging at the highest resolutions on the Krios.
Amgen will use these instruments to accelerate drug discovery via three techniques: single particle analysis, microcrystal electron diffraction, and cryo-electron tomography. As Philip Tagari, Vice President of Therapeutic Discovery at Amgen, puts it: “We anticipate this equipment will contribute to Amgen’s better understanding of disease mechanisms as we analyze drug targets. With the ability to view drug targets in their near-native states at the atomic level, our hope is to bring more speed and power to drug discovery.”
USC will provide instrument expertise to Amgen, while advancing its own research. For example, researchers plan to use the Krios and Glacios to complete the development of an atomic-level map of the human cell—one of the university’s most prominent projects. They will also continue their work observing proteins in a wide range of conformational states, as a team of USC researchers recently accomplished with the human neurotransmitter receptor GABA-B.
Says Stephen Bradforth, USC Dornsife Divisional Dean for Physical Sciences, “Housing these instruments in USC’s new Center for Nanoimaging will drive fundamental research underpinning advances in human health across our campuses. We believe it will help us continue to attract top students and faculty to USC as we dramatically expand our presence in the field of structural biology.”
Co-locating these two instruments is a great example of how private and public sector organizations can combine resources to bring more speed and power to biotechnology research.
Suzanne Graham is the Senior Director Business Development at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
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