New specimen support grids for electron microscopy, made of pure gold and designed by Lori Passmore and Chris Russo from the LMB’s Structural Studies Division, have been licensed for production by Quantifoil Micro Tools GmbH (Quantifoil). These ultrastable gold support grids improve the microscope image quality, revealing more information than was previously possible. Quantifoil, a European company that develops innovative life science products for electron microscopy, will manufacture and market the gold supports under the name UltrAuFoilTMs.
Many protein structures are difficult to solve using electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) because the specimens move around in the microscope while they are being imaged. The traditional carbon grids that are used to support frozen protein samples in the electron microscope actually cause many of the movement problems, and the new ultrastable grids, made entirely of gold, achieve far better contrast and improve the quality of the images by dramatically reducing the specimen movement.
Mr Kay Pfennighaus, Managing Director, Quantifoil, said: “We are excited to be part of this revolutionary progress in electron microscopy and prosperous collaboration with the MRC.”
The licence was negotiated by the independent life science research charity MRC Technology, which helped translate this innovative research into a commercial reality. Since their recent development at the LMB, external scientists have been eager to test these gold grids: this exciting technology will now be available to all researchers, allowing them to use cryo-EM to determine protein structures that would have previously been intractable.