Delmic licenses Cryo Workflow Tools

New product to be launched in March simplifies electron cryotomography

February 24, 2021

Delmic Cryo B.V. and Max Planck Innovation have signed a licensing agreement for production and distribution of Cryo Workflow Tools invented and developed by the group of Stefan Raunser, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund. The Cryo Workflow Tools are aimed at reducing ice contamination, a major obstacle in the cryo electron tomography workflow. The new product with the name “Delmic CERES Ice Defence System” will be launched in March 2021. It will help increase accessibility of cryo electron tomography and simplify the acquisition of new knowledge in life sciences.

Modified Cryo-FIB Aquilos. A newly developed cryo Anti-contaminator consists of a cryo shutter which protects the sample from ice contamination and thereby improves preparation of the sample by the ion-beam. Samples are transferred to cryo scanning electron microscopy by high vacuum cryo transfer.

In comparison to the conventional light microscopy, cryo electron tomography is a powerful tool that offers much deeper insights into the cell structure by unveiling high-resolution 3D views of biological samples such as large macromolecules. In the first step, samples are immobilized by high-speed freezing at extreme temperatures under minus 150 degrees Celsius. These cryogenic conditions make it possible to study samples without chemical fixation or dehydration, thereby preventing distortion or disruption of biological structures of the sample. However, the preparation and the handling of the samples are very complex, since the formation of crystalline ice can compromise the structural integrity of the specimen. Sebastian Tacke and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute in Dortmund developed an innovative cryo-electron tomography technology, which is now commercialized by the Dutch company Delmic, who specialize in offering solutions for light and electron microscopy. The new set of powerful cryo solutions is aimed to simplify and bring efficiency in the preparation phase involving cryo-electron tomography samples.

The Cryo Workflow Tools will be known commercially as the CERES Ice Defence System. Used together or individually, the anti-contaminator, glove box and high vacuum cryo transfer are aimed to minimize ice contamination during lamella preparation. The Anti-contaminator consists of a cryo shutter that is cooled by liquid nitrogen. It provides a colder surface within close proximity to the cryo sample and prevents any residual moisture in the chamber to condense on the sample and therefore drastically reduces undesirable ice formation on the sample. The glove box can be used to prepare the cryogenically frozen samples for cryo-FIB (Focused Ion Beam) and for cryo transmission electron microscopy with minimal ice contamination thanks to a less than one percent humidity environment. The high vacuum cryo transfer is designed to transfer samples at high vacuum between the preparation station to the cryo scanning electron microscope to minimize ice contamination during the transfer. The CERES Ice Defence System has already been sold to several research groups and will now officially be launched in March 2021.

“We are very excited to partner with the Max Planck Institute in Dortmund to make these innovative tools available to researchers in the cryo-electron microscopy field. The tools fit perfectly with our company mission, which is to make the world a healthier place by increasing the ease of obtaining powerful insight into the building blocks of life through cryo-electron tomography”, says Katherine Lau, Business Unit Owner at Delmic Cryo. “This fruitful collaboration of academia and industry is an example par excellence of how basic research can be transferred into the development of innovative technologies, improving the gain of new knowledge in life sciences and beyond. This technology transfer would not have been possible in this way without the important work of Max Planck Innovation,” says Stefan Raunser, director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology. “With Delmic, we have found an innovation-driven company that offers high-performance microscopy solutions for research. The invention of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology fits in perfectly with Delmic's product portfolio and will further simplify cryo-electron tomography research to get a better understanding of organisms in the future. We are glad about the partnership and look forward to the product launch”, says Ingrid Kapser-Fischer, patent- and licensing manager at Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck Society. 

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