Biotech Connector: The Cryo-EM Boom

August 21, 2021

Biotech Connector: The Cryo-EM Boom

Biotech Connector is an exclusive quarterly series that brings together the area biotech community for an inside look at local biotech advances. It is a partnership between the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and the Frederick National Laboratory Partnership Development Office.

Topics will include:

* Cryo-EM, a Powerful Tool for Understanding Structure
In order to understand biological processes, and how they fail in disease, it is vital to obtain structural information for the relevant biological machinery. These large or dynamic systems present a challenge to traditional structural methods as X-Ray or NMR. Fortunately, cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) techniques, particularly single particle analysis (SPA), have emerged as a well-suited approach for the determination of native protein function and the dynamics of complex biological systems. During this webinar Natalia de Val, PhD, of ThermoFisher Scientific will present the latest SPA results obtained with the Glacios/Krios TEM, Falcon 4 and Selectris combination.

* Advancing Cryo-EM: High Resolution at Low Cost
In recent years, the cryo-EM method has undergone a “resolution revolution” that’s led to a flood of high-resolution structures of challenging samples and consequent surge in interest among structural biologists. However, due to the high cost of the equipment, the technique is still inaccessible to many scientists. There is thus an urgent need for instrumentation that is more affordable but still capable of producing data of similarly high quality. In this presentation, Jana Ognjenovic, PhD, of Frederick National Laboratory will show results demonstrating that lower voltage electron microscopes, which are significantly less expensive than the ones commonly used for high-end data collection, are indeed able to deliver ultra-high resolution structures, even for samples that exhibit substantial conformational and compositional heterogeneity. The detailed chemical information provided by these structures has the potential to inform anticancer and antiviral drug design efforts.

* Establishing Cryo-EM in Industry: My Experience and Some Examples of Applications
Single-particle cryo‑EM is becoming an important tool for structure-based drug discovery. By enabling structural determination for ‘intractable’ targets that are not amenable to X‑ray crystallography, cryo-EM is rapidly expanding the toolbox of structural biologists, thus enabling new drug discovery targets. In this presentation, Enrico Malito, PhD, of Schrodinger will share his experience with establishing capabilities for structural biology in R&D in industry, providing examples of the impact of cryo-EM on the company's pipeline.