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Posted in | Nanomedicine | Nanoanalysis

Protein Structures Can Provide Keys to Understanding and Preventing Diseases of Catastrophic Proportions

Published on June 16, 2009 at 9:25 AM

In the rarified world of protein crystal hunters, Fluidigm's TOPAZ® system is the tool that has helped researchers solve the structures of proteins from the Ebola Virus and Avian Flu Influenza. Now Fluidigm is introducing its new 1.96 Diffraction Capable (DC) integrated fluidic circuit which will allow researchers something they have long sought - direct screen-to-beam capabilities without the need to physically harvest a crystal from the device.

The TOPAZ system has long been recognized for providing the industry’s most efficient screening method -- Free Interface Diffusion (FID). The system samples crystallization space more broadly while using significantly less protein sample than any other products on the market. It therefore finds protein crystals more efficiently than any other offering. These microscopic crystals can hold the key to understanding and possibly preventing diseases of catastrophic proportions, such as influenza epidemics.

Fluidigm’s new TOPAZ 1.96 DC chip provides the ability to obtain high quality in situ, diffraction data, thus allowing true “hands off” diffraction-based screening. “The TOPAZ 1.96 DC chip gives researchers the ability to screen broadly to find protein crystals and then immediately expose their targets to an x-ray source directly through the chip,” noted Gajus Worthington, Fluidigm president and chief executive officer. “The 1.96 DC chip finally allows screening decisions to be based on data rather than guesswork.”

“We have been using Fluidigm’s 1.96 DC chip for several months. Its ability to allow diffraction-based screening has been a tremendous benefit to our research,” said James Berger, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. “The TOPAZ 1.96 DC chip is a game-changer that has allowed us to solve structures much more quickly than before because we can immediately concentrate our efforts on crystals that provide the highest quality diffraction data from the outset.”

Diffraction-based screening is made possible because the Fluidigm 1.96 DC chip uses advanced chip design techniques. The chip materials and dimensions have been chosen to optimize its performance for in situ diffraction, allowing the entire chip to be placed directly in the path of an X-ray beam. If necessary, “cut-outs” of the chip can be made to fit onto pins, which can be cryopreserved and placed onto standard goniometer heads for data collection.

The Fluidigm 1.96 DC chip is the newest addition to the company’s TOPAZ System which consists of chips, hardware and software that simplify and automate nanoscale free interface diffusion.

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