b627 - Apps/Techniques/Products/Resources/Contact Us/Learning Center (LS)
Electron Microscopy

Cancer Research with Cryo-EM

Cryo-electron microscopy enables structural analysis of oncology targets, guiding cancer research.


Cancer research

Cancer describes a large group of diseases with a diverse array of etiologies and locations, bound together by the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond physiological constraints. World Health Organization statistics show that nearly 10 million people worldwide died from cancer in 2020, with 20 million new cases diagnosed in that year. Cancer is governed by the behaviors and interactions of numerous distinct cell types, which are mediated by a vast number of protein-signaling pathways. While it is well known that mutant gene products lead to oncogenesis, the underlying mechanisms and potential protein-level therapeutic targets are largely unclear. This drives structural biologists to characterize how mutations affect protein structure and to identify how these alterations impact signaling and function.

Cryo-electron microscopy in cancer research

There are numerous techniques that are used in cancer research; one of the most common is X-ray crystallography, a diffraction technique that allows researchers to study the structures of biomolecules. Crystallography inherently requires crystalline samples, which can be difficult to produce for large molecules or macromolecular complexes. With cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), structural biologists can study the structures of critical proteins such as membrane receptors and other biomolecules that are difficult to crystallize. Cryo-EM allows researchers to freeze biomolecules in their native conformations and visualize protein interactions. Scientists can also use cryo-EM to capture different stages of biochemical reactions instead of just the pre-reaction and end states. With structural insights, researchers can better understand the conditions required for cancer cell growth and identify new ways to treat cancer. Learn how cryo-EM is revolutionizing cancer research in our eBook.

Cryo-EM and structure-based drug design

Membrane proteins and large macromolecular structures are challenging targets for X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy. (E.g. while membrane proteins account for over 60% of drug targets, they only make up ~2% of existing crystal structures.) Generally, this means that they cannot obtain structures quickly enough to impact the drug design process. Cryo-EM techniques, meanwhile, do not require crystal growth, making them more flexible and capable of determining the structures of non-crystalline proteins. With cryo-EM, researchers can analyze the complex conformations, structures, and modified forms of proteins; multiple conformations can even be studied within a single sample. Learn more about the wide range of targets that can be studied with cryo-EM on our drug discovery page.


Resources

 

Publications library

 

Publications search tool ›
  • Search and find scientific papers relevant to your research.
     
Subscribe to the Monthly Publications Newsletter ›

Structural Oncology – Fighting Cancer with Cryo-EM

Dr. Deborah Kelly from Penn State University’s Center for Structural Oncology discusses rational drug design based on structural insights with cryo-EM.

Cryo-Electron Microscopy and the Complexity of Cancer

Dr. Simon Poepsel, UC Berkeley, explains how single-particle cryo-electron microscopy enables us to gain insight into cancer development through the detailed analysis of molecular structure, covering both biology and methodology.

 

Publications library

 

Publications search tool ›
  • Search and find scientific papers relevant to your research.
     
Subscribe to the Monthly Publications Newsletter ›

Structural Oncology – Fighting Cancer with Cryo-EM

Dr. Deborah Kelly from Penn State University’s Center for Structural Oncology discusses rational drug design based on structural insights with cryo-EM.

Cryo-Electron Microscopy and the Complexity of Cancer

Dr. Simon Poepsel, UC Berkeley, explains how single-particle cryo-electron microscopy enables us to gain insight into cancer development through the detailed analysis of molecular structure, covering both biology and methodology.

Applications

Drug discovery

Drug Discovery

Learn how to take advantage of rational drug design for many major drug target classes, leading to best-in-class drugs.


Techniques

Single Particle Analysis

Single particle analysis (SPA) is a cryo-electron microscopy technique that enables structural characterization at near-atomic resolutions, unraveling dynamic biological processes and the structure of biomolecular complexes/assemblies.

Learn more ›

Single Particle Analysis

Single particle analysis (SPA) is a cryo-electron microscopy technique that enables structural characterization at near-atomic resolutions, unraveling dynamic biological processes and the structure of biomolecular complexes/assemblies.

Learn more ›

Products

Style Sheet for Instrument Cards Original
Thermo Scientific Tundra Cryo transmission electron microscope (TEM)

Tundra Cryo-TEM

  • Structural information at biologically relevant resolution
  • Space efficient and cost effective
  • Easy, iterative sample optimization
  • Unique AI algorithms for streamlined data collection
Thermo Scientific Glacios Cryo transmission electron microscope (TEM)

Glacios Cryo-TEM

  • Flexible Accelerating Voltage 80-200 kV
  • Industry-leading Autoloader for cryogenic sample manipulation
  • Small footprint
  • Enhanced ease-of-use
Thermo Scientific Krios G4 Cryo transmission electron microscope (TEM)

Krios G4 Cryo-TEM

  • Improved ergonomics
  • Fits more easily into new and existing labs
  • Maximized productivity and automation
  • Best image quality for high-resolution 3D reconstruction

Contact us

Style Sheet for Komodo Tabs
Style Sheet to change H2 style to p with em-h2-header class
Style Sheet to change H3 to p with em-h3-header class
Style Sheet to change Applications H3 to p with em-h3-header class

Electron microscopy services for
the life sciences

To ensure optimal system performance, we provide you access to a world-class network of field service experts, technical support, and certified spare parts.

Style Sheet for Support and Service footer
Style Sheet for Fonts
Style Sheet for Cards