by Sara Verstraeten

The Sample Preparation and Characterisation Facility at EMBL Hamburg reopens to support scientists working on Covid-19 research.

The SPC Facility is one of the best equipped facilities in Europe

The biophysical platform at EMBL Hamburg is part of the Sample Preparation and Characterisation (SPC) Facility, which is an integral part of the EMBL Hamburg user facilities at the synchrotron source PETRA III for high-resolution structural biology. The SPC Facility is one of the best equipped facilities in Europe and is therefore in high demand from external users for COVID-19 projects. Alongside colleagues from EMBL Hamburg, scientists from other institutes like DESY and the Heinrich Pette Institute – which carries out research on experimental virology – have already requested access to the SPC Facility for research projects related to COVID-19. Re-opening the facility allows experts at EMBL to measure how strongly potential drug molecules bind to SARS-CoV-2 proteins, which could support the identification of drug treatments for coronavirus infections.

The Sample Preparation and Characterisation (SPC) Facility in Hamburg is part of a wide range of structural biology services offered by EMBL on four of its sites. EMBL Grenoble and EMBL Hamburg provide support for X-ray-related experiments, in close collaboration with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble and the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg. At both sites, synchrotron beamlines are complemented by facilities for the preparation and crystallisation of biological samples. EMBL Grenoble also provides access to cryo-EM, with a Titan Krios microscope installed at the ESRF and run jointly by the four institutes on Grenoble’s EPN campus. EMBL Heidelberg provides access to the Cryo-EM Service Platform, and to advanced facilities for sample preparation and data analysis. This range of services for external users will be offered from 2021 at the EMBL Imaging Centre. EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Hinxton, UK, provides additional support through its data repositories (PDB, EMDB, and EMPIAR).