Lab-on-a-chip for cryo-EM (LOCEM). 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

The general purpose of this project is the development of an optimized prototype of the total lab-on-a-chip for cryo-EM, i.e. a cryo-EM affinity grid in combination with a microfluidic chip. The latter will enable the purification of bioparticles (i.e. proteins) which will then be loaded on a cryo-EM affinity grid.

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Development of an affinity grid for cryo-electron microscopy enabling protein structure determination. 01/04/2019 - 31/10/2020

Abstract

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has evolved tremendously over the last five years, thereby becoming a promising method to gain high-resolution structural information on therapeutically relevant proteins involved in cancer, bacterial or viral infections, or neuropathologies. This rapid evolution has sparked the interest of pharmaceutical companies in cryo-EM, because protein structure information may yield better insights into the functioning of proteins, which can be used to develop better drugs. However, as a result of its success several inefficiencies within the cryo-EM workflow have emerged, especially related to sample preparation. Novel technologies have been proposed to optimize these, but these new techniques (i) often address only a single step within the overall workflow, (ii) are incompatible with other novel solutions or (iii) are difficult to implement by non-expert users. The objective of this PoC study is to revive affinity grids, electron microscopy grids that can be used for on-grid protein purification, and a potential solution to bypass some of the existing bottlenecks. by introducing novel recent developments in nanotechnology. The novel grid will be part of a larger international initiative aimed at developing an integrated workflow for highthroughput cryo-EM.

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Project website

Biomedical Microscopic Imaging and in-vivo Bio-Imaging (EGAMI). 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

EGAMI stands for Expert Group Antwerp Molecular Imaging. Moreover, EGAMI is the mirror word of 'image'. EGAMI clusters the internationally recognized expertise in the profession of fundamental and biomedical imaging at the University of Antwerp: the Bio-Imaging Lab, the Molecular Imaging Center Antwerp (MICA), Radiology, the Laboratory for Cell Biology and Histology, and the Vision Lab (for post-processing of medical images). EGAMI's mission is providing an integrated research platform that comprises all aspects of multimodality translational medical imaging. Multimodality refers to the integration of information from the various imaging techniques. Within EGAMI, there is pre-clinical and clinical expertise and infrastructure for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). EGAMI executes projects ranging from applied biomedical (imaging) and fundamental research to imaging methodologies. Die applied biomedical research focusses on the research fields neuro(bio)logy (i.e. development and validation of biomarkers (as well as therapy evaluation) for diseases like Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis etc.) and oncology (i.e. biomarkers for improved patient stratification and therapy monitoring). Since the pre-clinical biomedical research within EGAMI makes use of miniaturized versions of imaging equipment for humans (scanners) is it inherently translational, in other words initial findings acquired in animal experiments can be translated into clinical applications for improved diagnosis and treatment of patients ('from bench to bedside'). Beside the application of imaging in the biomedical research, EGAMI also conducts projects that aim to achieve an improvement and optimization of the imaging methodology. The expertise of the MICA (e.g. the development of new radiotracers) and of the Vision Lab (e.g. the development of image reconstruction, segmentation, and analysis algorithms) offers here the strategic platform to assemble intellectual property rights.

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