Using Cryo-EM for Drug Discovery

With its high-resolution imaging capabilities and ability to preserve cells and molecules for study, cryo-EM is perfect for drug discovery. Find out more now!


Using Cryo-EM for Drug Discovery

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is an advanced high-resolution imaging technique that is used to uncover the characteristics of different molecules. Cryo-EM can preserve samples for analysis by maintaining them under cryogenic conditions. This way they can retain their properties as if they were still in their native environments.

The basics of cryo-EM involve a beam of high-energy electrons used on biological molecules. These electrons help create a three-dimensional (3D) model of a molecule at near atomic resolution. The method also doesn’t require crystallization of biomolecules. Instead, they are preserved through flash-freezing in liquid ethane. This can stop ice crystals from forming and allow high-resolution structural studies of complex biomolecules.

Thanks to its high-resolution and ability to maintain and analyze molecules, viruses, cells, and proteins, cryo-EM is routinely used to study protein structures and show how they interact with drugs. They can also help us visualize intractable targets so we can learn about how they are formed. Without using tools like x-ray crystallography that require crystallization of biomolecules, it would have been impossible to learn about these targets. But now we can!

Cryo-EM has already advanced discoveries in structural biology and molecular biology, so much so that it was recognized by the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The market for cryo-EM is growing, to the point that when we reach 2028 it will be worth £2.1 billion. It is fueled by the need for innovative imaging tools that utilize high-resolution to study drugs and medications.

With that said, if you are interested in utilizing the capabilities of cryo-EM for drug discovery, we invite you to read on. In our article, you can learn more about cryo-EM’s enhanced technology. Alongside this, you will see how it is applied to creating and researching different drugs or therapeutics.

Technological Advancements in Cryo-EM

Recent advancements in transmission electron microscopes have been crucial in propelling cryo-EM to the forefront of drug discovery. These microscopes utilize a beam of electrons to achieve high-resolution images of biological samples.
When combined with direct detector cameras and advanced image processing algorithms, they enable scientists to visualize 2D images that can be reconstructed into detailed 3D structures. These images demonstrate cryo-EM’s contribution to the “resolution revolution”. With its high-resolution, it has helped to facilitate the structure determination of nucleic acids, small molecules, and other critical components of molecular biology.

From 2D Images to 3D Structures: The Power of Cryo-EM in Drug Design

Cryo-EM has the ability to generate 3D reconstructions from 2D images. These models enable researchers to observe the intricate details of how drugs interact with their biological targets. This technique is invaluable for determining the atomic structure of biomolecules and enhancing targeted drug design. As a result, it can allow for the development of therapeutics with unparalleled specificity and efficacy.

Unlocking the Secrets of Membrane Proteins

ViMembrane proteins are vital for numerous biological functions and a primary target in drug development. Studying membrane proteins has always been challenging because of their complex nature. Cryo-EM, with its use of liquid nitrogen for preserving the samples under study, offers a robust solution for visualizing these proteins in their natural lipid environment.

Confronting Drug Resistance with Structural Insights

The battle against drug resistance is a major concern in treating various diseases. Cryo-EM provides a window into the molecular changes that lead to resistance. It can offer clues for designing drugs that can bypass or overcome these obstacles.
Ultimately, cryo-EM can aid in the development of next-generation therapeutics. This is through detailing the structural biology of resistant pathogens or cancer cells.

Cryo-EM: Shaping the Future of Drug Discovery

Despite the high costs and specialized expertise required, the potential of cryo-EM in the field of drug discovery and structural biology remains vast. As access to transmission electron microscopes and computational analysis tools improve, cryo-EM's contributions to drug development are expected to grow exponentially.

Cryo-EM is the Key to Innovation in Drug Discovery

Cryo-EM has so much potential within the world of medical drug discovery. Through captured images, we can see life at atomic levels. This is a snapshot of how the smaller things can have an impact on our larger world. With such enhanced technology, it is our responsibility to use it to improve the lives of patients.

Already, cryo-EM has found its place in drug discovery. Not only has it helped to create antibacterial drugs by analyzing the formations of bacteria and their reactions to different drug compositions, but they have been used to learn more about 𝛾-secretase in relation to Alzheimer’s disease. As the future beckons, we will most likely see this tool enhanced through automation to provide more efficient results.

Here at JEOL USA, we value innovation and advanced scientific tools that can aid us in our discoveries. If you are interested in cryo-EM, visit our website to learn more about it.

Start your journey by reading our article on how cryo-EM is different to transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Once you are done, you can browse through our range of microscopes. This includes our Cryo Arm™ 300 II.

See for yourself how you can utilize the power of cryo-EM. If you have any questions about our products, feel free to contact us at any time.




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