An agreement to launch a new cryo-EM capability for use in the life sciences industry sector by Thermo Fisher Scientific, a leader in high-end scientific instrumentation, and Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron and one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, was announced at the official opening of the new national electron bio-imaging centre (eBIC) at Diamond.
This announcement confirms Diamond as one of the major global cryo-EM sites embedded with an abundance of complementary synchrotron-based techniques, and thereby provides the life sciences sector with an offer not available anywhere else in the world.
Professor Dave Stuart, Life Sciences Director at Diamond and MRC Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford, Department of Clinical Medicine, says, "Access to 21st century scientific tools to push the boundaries of scientific research is essential for both academia and industry, and what we have created here at Diamond is truly unique in the world in terms of size and scale. The new centre offers the opportunity for almost real-time physiology, capturing proteins in action at cryo-temperatures by flash-freezing them at various stages. What Diamond has created with eBIC is an integrated facility for structural biology, which will accelerate R&D for both industry and academic users. The additional advanced instruments made available by Thermo Fisher will position the UK as a global leader in providing large-scale industrial access to cryo-EM for drug discovery research. Our new collaboration provides a step change in our offer for industry users and helps ensure that R&D remains in the UK."
The collaboration will further expand Diamond's cryo-EM offerings by providing two new dedicated microscopes and professional cryo-EM services designed exclusively for the pharmaceutical industry. New instruments being installed include a Thermo Scientific Glacios Cryo transmission electron microscope (TEM) and a Thermo Scientific Krios Cryo-TEM at eBIC. The two organisations will provide cryo-EM guidance and expertise in sample preparation, cryo-EM sample screening, and high-end data collection to industrial researchers.
The new microscopes will add to Diamond's four existing high-end microscopes, which are starting operation within eBIC and will continue to support the academic demand.
Recent technology developments in cryo-EM are proving to be powerful for both basic and applied science at Diamond. This is why Diamond, with the wider community led by Birkbeck College and Oxford University, established a centre embedded within the synchrotron's infrastructure through a strategic grant from the Wellcome Trust, Biotechnology and Biological Research Council and Medical Research Council.
Pharmaceutical company researchers will have easy access to expert knowledge and industry leading cryo-EM equipment, covering the complete workflow for single particle analysis in the first instance. Access to both a Glacios Cryo-TEM and a Krios Cryo-TEM at one location will optimise productivity and time-to-result because of the designed-in connectivity between the two instruments. Scientists will be able to first pre-screen samples on the Glacios Cryo-TEM to find the best quality samples before advancing to the higher resolution imaging on the Krios Cryo-TEM.