FEI has announced that cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has been named “Method of the Year 2015” by Nature Methods, in a Special Feature of the January 2016 issue: http://www.nature.com/nmeth/focus/moy2015/index.html (doi:10.1038/nmeth.3730).
“State-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopes are impacting biomedical research like never before, delivering atomic-level, three-dimensional structures of medically-important proteins to university and pharmaceutical company scientists with unprecedented speed and accuracy,” said Professor Stephen K. Burley, M.D., D. Phil. Director of the RCSB Protein Data Bank and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. “Over the next few years, these new instruments will enable the power of structure-guided drug discovery to be brought to bear on entirely new classes of disease-causing proteins, particularly those responsible for neurological and psychiatric illnesses where there remain enormous, unmet medical needs,” added Burley.
“Nature Methods’ recognition of cryo-EM as ‘Method of the Year 2015’ is an extremely prestigious award within the life science research community,” said Peter Fruhstorfer, vice president and general manager of the Life Sciences business, FEI. “We are deeply gratified to know that our investments in developing and commercializing the technique are paying important dividends in scientific advancements that have the potential to benefit the well-being of all.”
Biologists use cryo-EM to study the structure and function of cells, viruses and protein assemblies at the molecular, sub-nanometer scale. Recent technological advancements in the microscope design and imaging hardware, along with enhanced image processing and automation, have helped to catapult the technique’s success. Many leading scientists have recently adopted the technique as one of the most critical tools in their laboratory. Established methods for structure determination, such as x-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, are now routinely integrated with cryo-EM density maps to achieve atomic-resolution models of complex, dynamic molecular assemblies.
Fruhstorfer adds, “FEI pioneered cryo-EM with its introduction of the Titan Krios™ transmission electron microscope in 2008. Since then, we have continued to make advancements in the technology and have partnered with several leading scientists to develop a sample preparation and imaging workflow that has potentially game changing power in structural and cellular biology.”