Across the globe, cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has become an integral part of drug discovery—both at the lab and with the help of many contract research organizations. This emerging technique provides researchers with the ability to examine the classes of proteins intractable using other methods at near-atomic resolution, thus expediting the time to clinical trials for important drug targets.
Yet, one challenge remains. Cryo-EM is still considered “out of reach” by many laboratories, a perception that hinders its accessibility and widespread use worldwide.
With our rapid instrumental innovation and a network of organizations focused on the democratization of cryo-EM, including contract research organizations, we are helping researchers to break new ground in key drug design.
Contract research organization proof of concept
Cryo-EM furthers modern drug design, but pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies require proof that the technique works on their specific drug design projects before investing in their own instrument.
By offering cryo-EM as a service, contract research organizations make this technique much more accessible and affordable for discovery teams in the early stages of adoption. Utilizing a contract research organization is beneficial for both obtaining proof of concept that cryo-EM and the adoption of in-house equipment is right for your lab, and for those times when you need ultimate resolution imaging of your samples.
Last year, we started a program with contract research organizations to help pharma customers validate that cryo-EM is right for them before committing to an in-house lab. Not long after, we were excited to launch our new Thermo Scientific Tundra Cryo-Transmission Electron Microscope (Cryo-TEM), which extends cryo-EM to even more scientists by delivering industry-leading ease-of-use at an affordable price.
Enabling in-house adoption of cryo-EM
With this new, compact and accessible cryo-TEM, labs can bring their cryo-EM sample preparation in-house and only send out analysis-ready samples to contract research organizations. When sample optimization is shifted away from shared instrumentation, everyone benefits. And our Tundra Cryo-TEM simplifies this process, offering researchers an iterative way of working that provides the instant feedback they need to quickly optimize a sample’s biochemistry and set them up for success in downstream data acquisition.
For those just starting to explore cryo-EM, the utilization of a contract research organization may help them better understand the full benefits of cryo-EM for their work. Then, they can bring their structure-determination in-house with the help of our Tundra—accessible to anyone using cryo-EM, even researchers new to the technique.
Suzanne Graham is the Senior Director Business Development at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
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