TTP Labtech introduces chameleon, automated system for next generation cryo-electron microscopy sample-prep

Press Releases

05 August, 2019

TTP Labtech introduces chameleon, automated system for next generation cryo-electron microscopy sample-prep

Developed to enable the reliable, consistent and scalable application of cryo-electron microscopy to protein research and drug discovery
chameleon showcased at Microscopy and Microanalysis in Portland, Oregon, August 4-8 2019

Cambridge, UK, 5th July 2019: TTP 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 Spotition 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 this rapidly growing field to more easily and accurately determine the structure of biomolecules, to support protein research and drug discovery.

chameleon instrument

Relatively 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 TTP 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 automation 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.

David Newble, Managing Director of TTP Labtech said, “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”.

In support of this continued focus on cryo-EM TTP 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 speciality support foils for electron microscopy applications to TTP 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.

Kay Pfennighaus, Quantifoil Managing Director said, “We're looking forward to aligning with TTP 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.”

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About TTP Labtech:

TTP Labtech designs and manufactures robust, reliable and easy-to-use solutions for sample management, liquid handling and multiplexed detection. We enable life scientists, through collaboration, deep application knowledge and leading engineering, to accelerate research and make a difference together. Our essential tools include state-of-the-art solutions developed for flexible sample management workflows from ambient to -80ºC (comPOUND®, arktic®, lab2lab), and unique low-volume liquid handling for genomics, compound screening and protein crystallography (mosquito® X1, mosquito® HTS, mosquito® crystal, mosquito® LCP, mosquito® HV, dragonfly® crystal and dragonfly® discovery, plus a full range of validated consumables such as tips and plates).

About Quantifoil Micro Tools GmbH

Quantifoil Micro Tools was founded in 1999 in Jena, Germany. The Company manufactures and markets its proprietary QUANTIFOIL support foils for electron microscopy. We supply directly to end users at Universities and Research Institutes worldwide, as well as through an established network of distributors, and serve customers in over 30 countries globally.