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Thermo’s Rhombix Protein Crystallization Platform Chosen by UK MPSI

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2006
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Membrane Protein Structure Initiative set to increase throughput and data management capabilities.

Thermo Electron Corporation has announced the purchase of three fully integrated Rhombix™ protein crystallization systems by the Membrane Protein Structure Initiative (MPSI).

A consortium of eight UK universities and institutions, the MPSI is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The MPSI has been working to develop high throughput methods for the crystallization and structural determination of specific integral membrane protein targets.

Integrating the latest technologies for experimental design and setup, advanced imaging, and data management, Thermo’s Rhombix systems are designed to significantly aid the MPSI’s crystallization programme.

The Rhombix systems will be installed at the MPSI laboratories at the University of Leeds, the University of Glasgow and the Diamond Synchrotron, where Imperial College London and Diamond are establishing a Membrane Protein Laboratory in a joint venture.

The MPSI’s strategy is to address a target list of membrane proteins, in particular those associated with ion channels and transporters.

Both groups of proteins have substantial medical relevance as their mutation or malfunction can be linked to the initiation and progression of many disease types and are thus regarded as important therapeutic targets.

Professor Neil Isaacs, Department of Chemistry, Glasgow Biomedical Research Centre commented, "We have an enormous task ahead of us with a phenomenal number of proteins to crystallize and a group of proteins that notoriously pose a significant crystallization challenge."

"After evaluating a range of vendor options, we felt the Thermo’s Rhombix platforms would best suit our needs."

"They will help us develop fully automated methods but also, more importantly maintain data quality while optimizing our experimental parameters for each protein."

"Having the ability to automatically track experiments from start to finish will provide us with a wealth of experimental information that we can store for future crystallizations."

Thermo’s Rhombix system is designed to integrate and control liquid handling instrumentation for accurate drop-making and screen preparation and the Rhombix Vision hardware automatically handles, stores and images plates using multimode imaging technologies for image quality and crystal visualization.

Furthermore, as a data-centric solution, experimental details and automation settings are recorded and stored in one centralized database, for advanced data mining and monitoring.

Christopher McNary, vice president & general manager, laboratory automation solutions for Thermo stated, "We are proud to be associated with the distinguished research taking place at the MPSI."

"The Rhombix systems will enable the researchers to further develop and optimize their high throughput methodologies."

He continued, "The key to this system is the advanced Rhombix software as it brings together all the components of the crystallization platform, such as experimental set-up, advanced imaging scheduling, and data capture and analysis, giving the users an intuitive and easy-to-use interface."

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