JEOL Installs Two Cryo-Electron Microscopes at Generate:Biomedicines
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Two towering JEOL Electron Microscopes stand ready to produce terabytes of valuable data for researchers at Generate:Biomedicines each day, who are accelerating drug discovery and development of novel therapeutics using machine learning and generative artificial intelligence. The two Transmission Electron Microscopes, the JEOL CRYO ARM 200 and CRYO ARM 300 are used in structural biology, and at Generate:Biomedicines they will be used to capture atomic resolution details of proteins that will help provide therapies in the fields of oncology, immunology, and infectious disease.
JEOL has completed installation of the two CRYO ARMs at Generate:Biomedicines’ laboratory space in Andover, Massachusetts. The new facility expands beyond the company’s Somerville, Mass headquarters to specifically house their microscopy labs. Generate:Biomedicines unveiled the new CryoEM facility in June. JEOL will provide dedicated applications support and continue to work closely with Generate:Biomedicines scientists to integrate the advanced microscopes into their fast-paced research programs. JEOL, with USA headquarters nearby in Peabody, MA and corporate headquarters in Akishma, Japan, has been producing cutting edge electron microscopes for more than 70 years, advancing technology that has important ramifications in the life sciences as well as the materials sciences.
Adam Root, Vice-President of Protein Sciences at Generate:Biomedicines, is excited about how the CRYO ARMs will be used to computationally design biotherapeutics. “We’ve built this facility to perform CryoEM at scale, adding structure determination to our ‘build-test-learn’ cycle and to continually advance our computational protein generation capabilities,” he says. Their process allows them to rapidly visualize, at the atomic scale, the binding of computationally-designed drug candidates to any disease target, he explains. Instead of relying on a purely trial-and-error solution to disease, they will be able to leverage this structural data to propose entirely new therapeutic protein solutions with intent.
“We will be pushing the CryoEM envelope,” adds Ed Brignole, Senior Director of CryoEM, “The two biggest evolutions in structural biology are the result of CryoEM technology and machine learning for predicting and designing protein structure. We are at the intersection putting the two together.”
In keeping with the mission at Generate:Biomedicines, Ed adds, “We’ve studied millions of proteins and learned the general rules by which nature encodes function. From this knowledge we can generate novel medicines with specific therapeutic functions. We call this breakthrough Generative Biology. This is a fundamental shift in what’s possible in the field of therapeutic development, and we are incredibly excited as we realize the breadth of its potential.”
CryoEM methodology has been successfully applied to study therapeutic targets such as viruses, membrane proteins, and components of the immune system. The ability to capture the structure of biomolecules with CryoEM is key in understanding how these protein systems function, or malfunction in the case of disease, as well as in identifying potential drug-binding targets for therapies. In the last decade, the field of structural biology was revolutionized with the advent of direct detector cameras and highly stable, automated cryogenic electron microscopes propelling CryoEM into becoming one of the most widely used tools in structural biology. The dramatic evolution of the method was celebrated in 2017 with the Nobel prize in Chemistry awarded to Richard Henderson, Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank for each of their contributions to the field.
Generate:Biomedicines was founded by Flagship Pioneering after two years of foundational research in its Labs unit and launched in 2020. The proximity of Generate:Biomedicines’ CRYO ARMs and JEOL’s USA headquarters lends itself naturally to cooperation between JEOL USA scientists who have ready access to the high-end research microscopes to understand their application in the field and to optimize their abilities.
“Generate:Biomedicines’ goal and strategy is an unparalleled undertaking in the field of medicine. JEOL USA is extremely proud to be part of the journey that Generate:Biomedicines will undertake to develop novel therapeutics that will greatly benefit mankind” says Jaap Brink, CryoEM Product Manager at JEOL USA.