Thermo Fisher and CROs Expand Access to Cryo-EM

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Thermo Fisher Scientific is increasing access to cry-electron microscopy with the help of contract research organizations.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is facilitating access to cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies by directing these companies to contract research organizations (CROs) that offer start-up packages for this technology as a service.

This new program provides the opportunity for companies to explore the technology and validate it before committing to an in-house lab or entering a long-term service contract with a CRO. Companies can obtain proof-of-concept for their samples and can evaluate how cryo-EM can bring value to their specific-use cases, Thermo Fisher stated in an Aug. 18, 2020 press release.

Cryo-EM is innovating the characterization of structural biology by uncovering near-atomic level structures of biologically important proteins. These structures can often be key to developing more effective and targeted drugs. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies require proof that the technique works on their specific drug design projects before investing in their own instrument, according to Thermo Fisher in the press release.

“As the cost of drug development dramatically rises, cryo-EM is poised to help companies bring safer and more effective drugs to market faster and more affordably,” said Trisha Rice, vice- president and general manager of life sciences at Thermo Fisher, in the press release. “This new program breaks down the barriers to adoption by providing information to pharmaceutical and biotech companies so they can discover the impactful value of cryo-EM before they enter into a long-term commitment.”

Three levels of service packages are being offered by cryo-EM CROs:

  • Starter kit package—this level service allows researchers to apply cryo-EM screening to determine whether their sample is suitable for exploration using cryo-EM.
  • Exploration package—this level service is step further from the starter level service and is where researchers can construct a 3D high-resolution molecular model of their sample.
  • Impact package—this level service gives researchers the opportunity to gain formal training in the use of cryo-EM and how to apply the technology to multiple projects as they consider whether to build their own lab or continue with cryo-EM as a service.

Initially, there will be five CROs participating in the program, including NovAliX in France, Diamond Light Source Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC) in the United Kingdom, NanoImaging Services in the United States, Proteros in Germany and the US, and Shuimu Biosciences in China. As time goes on, Thermo Fisher plans to expand the list of participating CROs to include those that are using Thermo Fisher’s cryo-EM instruments.

“We hope this program will enable cryo-EM for the masses,” said Denis Zeyer, CEO of NovAliX, in the press release. “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.”

“Outsourcing not only requires industry-leading tools and processes, but also a trusted, reliable environment. By working with Thermo Fisher, we are enabling small and mid-sized pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to start taking advantage of cryo-EM,” added Giovanna Scapin, chief scientist of NanoImaging Services, in the press release.

Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific