Thermo Fisher and Leading Contract Research Organizations Expand Cryo-EM Access to More Pharma and Biotech Companies
New program helps break down information barriers to cryo-EM adoption to speed development of more effective drugs

HILLSBORO, Ore., August 18, 2020—Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science, today announced it is facilitating access to cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) by directing pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to contract research organizations (CROs) around the globe that offer start-up packages for this breakthrough technology as a service.

Cryo-EM is changing the game in structural biology by uncovering near-atomic level structures of biologically important proteins that are often 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.

This new program provides participants with information that can lead to the validation they require before committing to an in-house lab or entering into a longer-term CRO service contract. By obtaining proof of concept for their samples, customers can discover the value of cryo-EM for their specific use cases.

“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. “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.”

CROs participating in the program offer three service package levels:

  • The Starter Kit Package allows researchers to apply cryo-EM screening to determine whether their sample is suitable for cryo-EM exploration;
  • The Exploration Package takes this examination a step further by allowing researchers to construct a 3D high-resolution molecular model of their sample; and
  • The Impact Package helps researchers gain formal cryo-EM training, applying the technology to multiple projects as they consider whether to build their own lab or continue with cryo-EM as a service.

Initially, five CROs will participate in the program: NovAliX in France, Diamond Light Source Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC) in the United Kingdom, NanoImaging Services, Inc., in the United States, Proteros in Germany and the United States, and Shuimu Biosciences Ltd. in China. Over time, Thermo Fisher plans to expand this list to include other CROs where Thermo Scientific cryo-EM instruments are used.

“We hope this program will enable cryo-EM for the masses,” said Denis Zeyer, chief executive officer 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.”

Giovanna Scapin, chief scientist of NanoImaging Services, agreed: “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.”

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Laura Glass
Thermo Fisher Scientific