Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson, the developers of cryo-EM, have been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
This revolutionary technique has revealed exquisite details of biological structures from single proteins upwards. The technique has “moved biochemistry into a new era,” says the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prize.
Image of a polio virus-like-particle, obbtained using cryo-EM
Diamond is home to eBIC, a national centre for electron bio-imaging which currently houses a range of state of the art equipment for cryo-EM, made widely available to the research community through peer-reviewed access. The centre is funded through Wellcome, MRC and BBSRC.
eBIC enables broad, cost-effective access to these specialised techniques, as it is not practical and affordable to distribute such facilities to all laboratories using this key technology. Increasingly, a combination of advanced methods is needed to understand biology at the molecular level; and so synergy with the other techniques offered by Diamond enables researchers to answer complex research questions using complementary tools.
Dave Stuart, Director of Life Sciences at Diamond says; “The team at Diamond congratulate Richard Henderson, Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank on being awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) community is in the throes of a ‘resolution revolution’, as predicted by Prof Henderson and collaborators. Their visionary work enables researchers to see in exquisite detail the structures of life, and cryo-EM is now rapidly maturing from a technique limited to a relatively small circle of expert users to one of very broad interest. Diamond are pleased to be part of the revolution by opening our national Electron Bio-Imaging centre (eBIC) to all.”
Already, eBIC has delivered stunning scientific results, from the imaging of polio virus-like-particles, which are strong candidates for a safer vaccine, to the imaging of dynein, which has revealed the complex mechanisms of activation and inactivation in intracellular transportation.
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