Amgen, USC, and Thermo Fisher Partner on Cryo-EM Biotechnology Research

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In the Lab eNewsletter, Pharmaceutical Technology's In the Lab eNewsletter, September 2021, Volume 16, Issue 09

The University of Southern California and Amgen have teamed up to provide researchers access to two of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s cryo-EM instruments.

The University of Southern California (USC) and Amgen have formed a partnership through which they can provide researchers access to two Thermo Fisher Scientific cryo-transmission electron microscopes (cry-TEMs): the Krios and Glacios cryo-TEMs. The partnership aims to accelerate the pace of research and discovery.

The instruments, housed at the Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience at USC’s University Park Campus, offer built-in connectivity that will enable researchers from both institutions to increase disease-research productivity. With the two instruments as part of their workflow, the researchers will be able to pre-screen samples at moderate resolutions on the Glacios, after which they can transfer the best-quality samples for imaging at the highest resolutions on the Krios, Thermo Fisher announced in an Aug. 10, 2021 press release.

Amgen will use the instruments to accelerate drug discovery through three techniques:

  • Single particle analysis
  • Microcrystal electron diffraction
  • Cryo-electron tomography.

Under the partnership, USC will provide instrument expertise to Amgen as USC advances its own research. For example, researchers plan to use Krios and Glacios to complete development of an atomic-level map of the human cell, a prominent project for the university. The USC researchers will also continue their work in observing proteins in a wide range of conformational states, similar to what another team of USC researchers recently accomplished with the human neurotransmitter receptor GABA-B.

“We anticipate this equipment will contribute to Amgen’s better understanding of disease mechanisms as we analyze drug targets. With the ability to view drug targets in their near-native states at the atomic level, our hope is to bring more speed and power to drug discovery,” said Philip Tagari, vice-president of Therapeutic Discovery at Amgen, in the press release.

“Housing these instruments in USC’s new Center for Nanoimaging will drive fundamental research underpinning advances in human health across our campuses. We believe it will help us continue to attract top students and faculty to USC as we dramatically expand our presence in the field of structural biology,” said Stephen Bradforth, USC Dornsife divisional dean for Physical Sciences, in the press release.

Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific