AIF User Protochips Supporting the Fight Against COVID-19

The devastating COVID-19 pandemic has united the research community in the race to develop a vaccine. Cryoelectron microscopy (cryoEM) is being used to visualize how this novel coronavirus attaches to and infects human cells, and cryoEM researchers need access to lab equipment and supplies to continue making strides in understanding the deadly virus. 

Protochips is one of two companies in the world that produce the microfabricated carbon sample supports used to freeze and image Coronavirus samples, and the only supplier of this product in the United States. The first publication* describing the structure of the COVID-19 “spike protein”, the part of the virus that attaches to the cell, required a Protochips sample support. Without access to these sample supports, critical cryoEM research would grind to a halt!   

For many years, Protochips has used the broad range of state-of-the-art instruments in the AIF and NNF labs on NCSU’s Centennial Campus to develop solutions for the NIH (National Institutes of Health), NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), and many more university and national research labs worldwide. According to John Damiano, CTO and co-founder of Protochips, “access to the AIF is critical for Protochips to provide our customers with the tools they need develop medical countermeasures such as vaccines, and we’re working hard to keep supporting them and their research through this pandemic.”

Wrapp, D., et al. “Cryo-EM structure of the 2019-nCoV spike in the prefusion conformation.” Science 367.6483 (2020): 1260.

See how other NNCI sites are continuing to support efforts both locally and nationwide in the fight against the coronavirus here.