Automating cryo-EM sample preparation

chameleon’s tweezer picking up a foil grid for protein sample-prepSPT Labtech Ltd, a global leader in the design and development of automated instrumentation and consumables for life science applications, has today announced the introduction of chameleon, an industry-enabling sample-preparation system for cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM).

The new system has been designed to enable consistent application of samples to high-quality foil grids for cryo-EM analysis, automating the current standard approach, which is a technically-demanding, largely manual process.

Based on the academically developed Spotiton instrument conceived at the New York Structural Biology Center, chameleon represents the next generation of sample-preparation solutions for cryo-EM. This will allow researchers in the rapidly growing field to more easily and accurately determine the structure of biomolecules, supporting protein research and drug discovery.

The chameleon InstrumentRelatively recent advances in resolution have meant that cryo-EM is able to effectively solve protein structures that were not previously possible using traditional methods like NMR and X-ray crystallography. However, the challenging process of obtaining vitrified samples of suitable thickness on foil grids presents a significant bottleneck.

The chameleon instrument developed by SPT Labtech allows researchers to automate this process in a reliable and consistent manner – enabling scientists to overcome some of the key limitations that have held back cryo-EM from reaching its full potential.

The new chameleon system will bring significant improvements to current sample-prep workflows, including:

  • High speed blot-free plunging
  • Automated grid handling
  • Grid screening based on ice thickness

Integral to chameleon is an algorithm that calculates the optimal plunge time for freezing, to protect and conserve samples for improved 3D imaging.

We are extremely excited to be launching the chameleon system, which enables high quality, repeatable preparation of samples for cryo-electron microscopy. This technology will enable scientists to improve data quality and significantly reduce the time required to prepare protein samples for imaging."

David Newble, Managing Director of SPT Labtech

In support of this continued focus on cryo-EM, SPT Labtech is also announcing the acquisition of Quantifoil Micro Tools GmbH (“Quantifoil”) into the group, creating a mutually beneficial partnership, bringing a wealth of expertise in the manufacture of specialty support foils for electron microscopy applications to SPT Labtech.

Quantifoil will benefit from additional resources to support its future growth through technology development, expansion of production capabilities, and an increased global market reach.

We’re looking forward to aligning with SPT Labtech, and believe this partnership will provide Quantifoil with many valuable resources as we continue to grow and develop the business globally. We see many synergies in this partnership and are looking forward to the future.”

Kay Pfennighaus, Managing Director of Quantifoil


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