Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced it is opening up access to its cryo-electronic microscopy (cryo-EM solutions) by pharma and biotech clients by directing them to contract research organizations (CROs) with start-up packages featuring the technology. The program is intended to enable clients to speed development of various drugs and therapies by enabling them to make use of the advanced equipment.
Cryo-EM reportedly enables research to uncover near-atomic level structures of biologically important proteins, which can be crucial in development of effective, targeted drugs. Pharma and biotech firms may require proof that the technique works on their particular drug development projects before they are able to invest in bringing such an instrument in house.
Raymond Schrijver, senior director of pharma with Thermo Fisher, told Outsourcing-Pharma that innovations in cryo-EM have made it possible for researchers to solve thousands of protein structures in the past five years, including difficult-to-analyze protein complexes.
“Leading scientists use our Glacios and Krios instruments to lock biologically important proteins in their natural state to study molecular interactions at high resolution,” he explained. “Understanding the structure of viruses and proteins helps determine how they function, potentially leading to prevention or treatment of diseases like diabetes, asthma, Parkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia, depression and cancers.”
According to the company, the program equips participants with information necessary for validation before buying equipment, or entering into a longer-term CRO service contract. Obtaining proof of concept for their samples, permits company to determine the value of cryo-EM for their specific use cases.
CROs taking part in the program offer three different service packages:
- Starter Kit Package: allows researchers to apply cryo-EM screening to determine whether their sample is suitable for cryo-EM exploration
- Exploration Package: enables researchers to construct a 3D high-resolution molecular model of their sample
- Impact Package: lets researchers gain formal cryo-EM training, then apply the technology to multiple projects so they can weigh continuing with cryo-EM service or building their own lab.
“This new program provides the information customers need before purchasing a Glacios or Krios electron microscope,” Schrijver told OSP. “By directing customers to contract research organizations (CROs) that fit their specific needs, customers develop proof-of-concept for their own samples using a Glacios or Krios instrument and discover the value that cryo-EM brings to their specific use cases.”
Five CROs around the world have been tapped for initial participation: NovAliX, France; Diamond Light Source Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC), UK: NanoImaging Services Inc., US; Proteros, Germany and US, and Shuimu Biosciences Ltd.; Thermo Fisher plans to eventually expand the list to include other CROs.
“We hope this program will enable cryo-EM for the masses,” said Denis Zeyer, CEO of NovAliX. “With customers being given more information regarding appropriate CROs, they can more seamlessly incorporate structural research into their existing workflows and benefit from the expertise that each CRO provides.”