The gold supports enable the determination of currently intractable protein structures by electron cryomicroscopy

London, UK, 30 March 2015: MRC Technology, an independent life science research charity, today announced it has negotiated a licence for ultrastable gold supports developed at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, with Quantifoil Micro Tools GmbH (Quantifoil), a company that develops innovative life science products for electron microscopy. Under this licence, Quantifoil will manufacture and market the gold supports (UltrAuFoil).

Many protein structures are difficult to solve using electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) because the specimens move in the microscope while they are imaged. Much of this movement is caused by the traditional carbon substrates used to support frozen samples in the electron microscope. The new gold supports nearly eliminate this motion resulting in improved image contrast and quality.

The gold supports were developed at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology by Dr Lori A Passmore and Dr Christopher J Russo and are described in Science (2014) Dec 12;346 (6215):1377-80 (doi:10.1126/science.1259530). A US provisional patent application for the technology was filed on 13 August 2013 followed by a PCT application on 20 June 2014.

Dr Karen Law, Business Manager, MRC Technology, said: “We are delighted to have helped translate innovative research into a commercial reality. It is an exciting technology that will now be readily available to researchers, and will enable the elucidation of protein structures that were previously difficult using existing cryo-EM products.”

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. Quantifoil hopes to strengthen its market position and to prove again its capabilities as a leading partner to transfer innovative research results into usable products.”