Miss the IUCr 2017 conference? Here’s the recap!

Miss the IUCr 2017 conference? Here’s the recap!

IUCr 2017! Our travel grant winner, Nicole Bertoletti shares her experience of the event…

Firmly established in the field of Crystallography since the 1930s, central India was the perfect location for the 24th Congress & General Assembly of the International Union of Crystallography 2017. In fact, the city of Hyderabad is so proud of its scientific history that its iconic architectural symbol, the Charminar (or ‘four minarets’) was based on the tetragonal crystal system.




The congress attracted a large number of attendees, having 1757 abstracts from 1827 registrants. More than 700 posters describing advances across the breadth of crystallographic research were displayed in the expo area. The opening ceremony set the tone with the 11th Ewald Prize lecture by Sir Tom Blundell of the University of Cambridge and an unveiling of the world’s largest NaCl crystal structure (brought from Vienna by creator Dr. Robert Krickl).

Speakers such as Richard Henderson (now a Nobel Prize winner, from MRC, Cambridge, UK), Leonid Sazanov (IST, Austria) and Sriram Subramaniam (Center for Cancer Research, NIH, USA) covered topics such as CryoEM and respiratory complex 1, to imaging protein dynamics.

One lucky delegate enjoying the talks was our IUCr2017 travel grant winner Nicole Bertoletti from Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany who kindly shared her experience of the event:

Nicole, what did you enjoy most about the conference?
I really enjoyed the diversity of the program which covered the vast majority of the crystallographic aspects for chemical biology, but also some off-topic items like ‘the crystallography on Mars’.

Nicole with the TTP Labtech Team at IUCr 2017

Nicole with the TTP Labtech Team at IUCr 2017

What are the latest trends that other researchers should keep an eye out for?
Definitely CryoEM is emerging and we will hear a lot about it over the next few years.

What did you find from the conference that will be most relevant and/or useful to your research?
During the conference, I had the opportunity to be part of several workshops and learn new software. Moreover, I attended a lot of extremely inspiring talks that have broadened my knowledge in macromolecular crystallography.

Did you gain any other useful insights from any talks or peer to peer conversations?
I found it really useful to talk with some of my peers and talk about the different types of experiments conducted in different labs.

What did you find most surprising about the event?
I was really surprised by the diversity of scientists and students joining the event from around the world.

Was anything missing or could anything have been done better?
I think was everything about right. However, they could have planned a longer poster session and not only during the lunch and coffee breaks.

Would it be worth going to the conference again next year?
IUCr is held once every three years and in 2020 will be in Prague. I am planning to go to the conference in 2020 and, if it possible, also in 2023 in Melbourne.

Bollywood Gala Dinner

The congress also featured a ‘Dragons’ Den’ competition for young crystallographers’ research ideas, a forward-thinking student outreach program and a spectacular Bollywood themed Gala dinner; with henna hand painting, street artisans demonstrating their skills in pottery and jewellery making, and professional dancers putting on a performance full of the colour and glamour of Bollywood.


As the curtain has dropped on the scientific and entertainment programs in Hyderabad, we turn our sights to Prague 2020 and look forward to seeing you all there!

If you would like to know more about NASA’s crystallography in space project, click here to read the IUCr blog. Or if you’d like to see any of the keynote lectures you can watch the videos here.

We will be at SLAS Europe 2018, booth #305!

Meet the team at SLAS Europe 2018 and discover how our instruments can assist you!

Venue: Square Meeting Centre, Brussels, Belgium
Date: 27 – 29 June 2018
Booth: 305

SLAS Europe 2018 will bring together over 1,000 Academic and Industry scientists and technologists from across Europe and beyond. The event has three tracks addressing emerging and hot areas in Biology, Technology and Discovery.

Out team of experts will be on hand to showcase to you the benefits of our instruments in the areas of drug discovery, genomics, structural biology and sample management.

 Check back here soon for more information!

It the meantime registration opens for this event in November 2017.
>>Click here to visit the events website


30 April - 4 May 2018 Join us in Boston for the PEGS Summit 2018!

Focus on mirrorball, our our high sensitivity fluorescence cytometer at PEGS Summit 2018

Venue: Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, USA
Date: 30 April – 4 May 2018
Booth: 442

The Essential Protein Engineering Summit (PEGS) is one of the industry’s most important events that inspires accelerated biotherapeutic protein drug development! Meet our team of experts at booth #442 and discover mirrorball.

Our high sensitivity fluorescence cytometer, mirrorball, is a highly versatile instrument that brings process efficiencies to multiple stages in the biologics screening pipeline – from early screening and hit identification, through to characterisation and phenotypic cellular responses.

Check back soon for more information about our talk!

In the meantime watch the video below and find out more about mirrorball and our revolutionary sol-R reagents and kits

Read a selection of our mirrorball app notes:

For more information about the event please visit their site: www.pegsummit.com


alternative acoustic liquid handling tubes

labCrystal 2017

Press release: Abcam and TTP Labtech Collaborate to Develop sol-R Reagent Kits

Press release: Abcam and TTP Labtech Collaborate to Develop sol-R Reagent Kits


Assay-ready kits will incorporate fully-validated, industry-leading recombinant antibody technology for high throughput research

Cambridge, UK, 16th August 2017: TTP Labtech Ltd, a global leader in the design and development of automated instrumentation and consumables for life science applications, and Abcam plc, a global  innovator in life sciences reagents and tools, today announced a collaboration to further develop reagent kits for the quantification of secreted proteins in multiplexed screening assays.

Following the successful launch last year of sol-R coded beads, TTP Labtech is working with Abcam to meet customer needs by developing assay ready kits which enable researchers to deliver data driven decisions faster and with confidence. The sol-R reagent kits will offer Abcam’s highly validated and quality assured antibodies including recombinant antibody pairs, combined with the reliability of sol-R coded beads and mirrorball® fluorescence cytometry technology from TTP Labtech for sample analysis.

Joby Jenkins, director – product strategy, TTP Labtech, commented: “Our sol-R coded beads are designed for secreted protein quantification in multiplexed no-wash immunoassay screens. Working with Abcam on the development of the sol-R reagent kits enables us to combine their advanced antibody technology and reagent expertise with our sol-R bead technology to provide convenient off-the-shelf kits. Since the kits are validated on TTP Labtech’s mirrorball plate-based fluorescent cytometer, repeated wash steps associated with traditional sandwich ELISA’s are no longer necessary, thereby significantly reducing assay times, while delivering data integrity.”

John Baker, Senior Vice President Portfolio and Business Development, at Abcam, said: “The integration of Abcam’s high quality antibody technology with
TTP Labtech’s sol-R Reagents will deliver reproducibility, quality and efficiency to life science researchers, accelerating their research. The new kits have been designed for researchers carrying out high-throughput immunoassays including drug discovery in biotech, pharma and contract research organisations.”

TTP Labtech will offer Alexa Fluor® technology1, one of the most frequently cited and trusted fluorochromes, with the kits to ensure the quality of the fluorescent signal produced by the kits.  The kits will be available globally through the TTP website and their authorised distributors, alternatively register at http://ttplabtech.com/landing/sol-r-reagents/ to apply for TTP Labtech’s early access program.

The new sol-R reagent kits will be released at MipTec 2017, Basel, 11-13th September – customers should visit booth #A26 to find out more.

  1. Alexa Fluor 488 (AF488) Streptavidin, licensed by Thermo Fisher Scientific.

For further information please contact:
Zyme Communications
Lorna Cuddon
Tel: +44 (0)7811 996 942
Email: lorna.cuddon@zymecommunications.com

For Abcam Media enquires please contact:
Instinctif Partners
Dr. Priya Kalia / Dr. Lynne Trowbridge
T: +44 (0)20 7866 7862 / +44 (0)20 7457 2861
E: abcam@instinctif.com


About TTP Labtech http://ttplabtech.com/

TTP Labtech designs and manufactures robust, reliable and easy-to-use solutions for sample management, liquid handling and multiplexed detection in drug discovery and genomics. We enable life scientists, through collaboration, deep application knowledge and leading engineering, to accelerate research and make a difference together. Our essential tools include state-of-the-art solutions developed for high throughput compound and biologics screening (acumen® Cellista, mirrorball® and fully validated consumables such as sol-R™ beads and plates),flexible sample management workflows from ambient to -800C (comPOUND®, arktic®, lab2lab), and unique low-volume liquid handling for genomics, compound screening and protein crystallography (mosquito® X1, mosquito® HTS, mosquito® crystal, mosquito® LCP, mosquito® HV, dragonfly® crystal and dragonfly® discovery and a full range of validated consumables such as tips and plates).

About Abcam plc www.abcam.com

As an innovator in reagents and tools, Abcam’s purpose is to serve life science researchers globally to achieve their mission, faster. Providing the research and clinical communities with tools and scientific support, Abcam offers highly validated biological binders and assays to address important targets in critical biological pathways.

Already a pioneer in data sharing and ecommerce in the life sciences, Abcam’s ambition is to be the most influential company in life sciences by helping advance global understanding of biology and causes of disease, which, in turn, will drive new treatments and improved health. Two-thirds of the world’s 750,000 life science researchers use Abcam’s affinity binders, reagents, biomarkers, and assays, and the company’s products are mentioned in over 20,000 of the 56,000 peer-reviewed papers published each year in the life sciences.

By actively listening to and collaborating with researchers, Abcam continuously advances its portfolio to address their needs. A transparent programme of customer reviews and datasheets, combined with an industry-leading validation initiative, gives researchers increased confidence in their results.

Abcam’s twelve locations are located in the world’s leading life science research hubs, enabling local services and multi-language support. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Cambridge, UK, the company sells to more than 100 countries. Abcam was admitted to AIM in 2005 (AIM: ABC).


3 - 7 Feb 2018 Visit us at SLAS2018, booth 1219


Join us at SLAS2018!

Venue: San Diego Convention Center, CA, USA
Date: 3 – 7 Feb 2018
Booth: 1219

Our SLAS2018 workshop is in motion! 

Workshop title: Accelerating and miniaturizing assay development and mechanistic biology – exploring a collaborative approach to eliminating bottlenecks in early stage drug discovery

Peter Craggs: Investigator , Screening, Profiling and Mechanistic Biology UK, GSK.
Joby Jenkins: Director of Product Strategy, TTP Labtech, UK.

Workshop date: 6th Feb 2018
Workshop time: 2:00 – 2:45 pm

Visit our booth #1219, where we will be showcasing solutions for sample management, liquid handling and detection instrumentation which are ideally suited for use in:

Target discovery  – simple answers from complex biology

  • arktic – biological library -80°C automated storage
  • mosquito – low-cost, low-volume NGS library prep
  • acumen Cellista – genome-wide library profiling
  • comPOUND – rapid automated delivery from -20°C storage

Assay development – develop complex assays, faster

  • dragonfly discovery – automated multi-channel assay development and validation for HTS
  • mosquito – low-volume compound addition and dilution
  • acumen Cellista – high-content phenotypic screens
  • mirrorball –no-wash, multi-target immunoassays

High-throughput screening – robust and cost effective screening

  • dragonfly discovery – robust, accurate and reliable HTS dispensing
  • mosquito – simple assay ready plate creation and reformatting
  • acumen Cellista – practical uHTS phenotypic screening
  • mirrorball – multiplexed, no-wash immunoassays
  • comPOUND – rapid automated delivery from -20°C storage

Hit-to-lead – progress with confidence

  • dragonfly discovery –  complex assay setup and screening
  • mosquito – low-volume hit picking and serial dilutions
  • acumen Cellista – multiplexed cell heath, multi-parameter 3D assays
  • mirrorball – multiplexed cell-based hit characterisation
  • comPOUND – compact, high-speed cherry picking -20°C storage

For more information about SLAS2018 please visit their website here


app note: comPOUND & arktic storage and cold sorting of clinical research samples in the laboratory for maximum sample integrity

blog: the perfect couple for GPCR

blog: the perfect couple for GPCR.

Obtaining detailed structures of any membrane protein has been challenging. A detergent is required to extract the protein from the lipid environment which does not contribute to a favourable environment for crystallisation using traditional vapour diffusion methods. To overcome this problem the lipid cubic phase (LCP) crystallisation method was developed. LCP was originally limited only by the difficulties associated with handling and pipetting the extremely viscous cubic phase (monoolein and water) a hurdle that has now been overcome by the development of TTP Labtech’s robotic system, mosquito® LCP.

Crystallography has clearly made many contributions to science over the last century. The ongoing process of developing new therapeutic drugs has driven research towards a desire to understand drug-target interactions at a molecular level. One group of potential targets attracting a great deal of attention is the G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). GPCRs are a large and diverse group of eukaryotic membrane receptors that play a role in a plethora of biological functions from olfaction to mood regulation.


mosquito LCP

Many drugs exert their effects by binding to GPCRs and thus understanding the structure of this interaction is of great importance.

The use of mosquito LCP has alleviated many of the technical limitations around the crystallisation of membrane proteins and allowed the crystallography research community to successfully determine many new GPCR structures that relate to drug therapy. Below are a few examples of the these which have all used mosquito LCP as an essential tool in determining the structures.

anxiety and depression

Research at Heptares Therapeutics has resulted in several publications in Nature describing the crystal structures of class B and class C GPCRs. Corticotropin-releasing factor receptor type 1 (CRF1R) is a class B GPCR involved in mediating the body’s response to stress and has thus been a target of drugs designed to treat both anxiety and depression. This was the first crystal structure of a class B GPCR to be determined1. More recent work from Heptares has determined the crystal structure of a class C GPCR, metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 transmembrane domain (mGlu5). mGlu5 responds to the neurotransmitter glutamate, which may open up research into the treatment of fragile X syndrome, autism, depression, anxiety, addiction and movement disorders2.

type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes affects over 3 million people in the UK alone and is the result of an insufficient insulin generation leading to higher than normal levels of blood glucose. A specific GPCR known as the human GPR40 receptor (hGPR40) has been shown to enhance glucose-dependent insulin secretion. Recent work has led to the development of TAK-875, a selective agonist of hGPR40 from Takeda that reached Phase III trials for the treatment of type 2 diabtes3. Crystallographic methods, involving the use of automated robotic systems (including mosquito), successfully described novel hGPR40-TAK-875 interactions4.

tackling blood clots

Recent work in crystallography has looked at a particular type of GPCR known as the P2Y12 receptor (P2Y12R), which is part of a family making up one of the most common targets of drugs that work to inhibit platelet aggregation5. Platelets play a critical role in thrombus formation (blood clotting), and drugs targeting P2Y12R have been approved for the prevention of stroke and myocardial infarction. Studies by Zhang et al revealed exciting and surprising structural findings:

P2Y12R was found to be capable of undergoing striking extracellular conformational changes akin to an open or closed ‘binding pocket’ depending on the type of agonist of antagonist present.

the integration of automation

Automated pipettors such as the mosquito range (TTP Labtech), used in all of the research detailed here, have been described as ‘the iPads of robotics’ by a recent user. Technology has allowed many users to progress from manually setting up crystallography screens and conducting multiple experiments in 24-well plates to rapidly seeding a 96-well screen. In the process the added advantages are the use of very low volumes of reagents with varying viscosities and, with a high degree of both accuracy and precision. These features have proven essential in taking the challenge of crystallising membrane proteins to a relatively routine procedure.

mastering the black art


LCP dispensing using mosquito LCP

Using these new systems has meant that even proteins that have been notoriously difficult to crystallise due to their complex structure, poor availability or unique characteristics, can now be studied. Whether using hanging drop, microbatch, vapour diffusion, sitting drop or lipid cubic phase (LCP) set-ups, there are now systems available to help alleviate many of the experimental hurdles experienced in the past.

For the full article please go to http://www.labnews.co.uk/features/the-perfect-couple/. If you would like any further information about any of the liquid handling mosquito or dragonfly® systems please contact crystallography@ttplabtech.com.


  1. Hollenstein, K. et al. Structure of class B GPCR corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 1. Nature 499, 438–43 (2013).
  2. Doré, A. S. et al. Structure of class C GPCR metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 transmembrane domain. Nature (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13396
  3. Negoro, N. et al. Discovery of TAK-875: A potent, selective, and orally bioavailable GPR40 agonist. ACS Med. Chem. Lett. 1, 290–294 (2010).
  4. Srivastava, A. et al. High-resolution structure of the human GPR40 receptor bound to allosteric agonist TAK-875. Nature (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13494
  5. Zhang, J. et al. Agonist-bound structure of the human P2Y12 receptor. Nature 509, 119–22 (2014).


blog: In support of Science Week…

STEM Visit to Alconbury Church of England Primary School for Science Week…

Our STEM ambassadors were invited via the Eastern Region STEM Networking Group to visit Alconbury Church of England Primary School in support of Science Week. Engineer Simon Tullett and scientist Dr Gillian Lewis attended from the TTP Labtech STEM Ambassador group to undertake some practical and fun science experiments and to demonstrate a liquid handling robot to the children.

Alconbury primary school is in a small village near to Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire and is a single form entry school catering for children from Reception through to Year 6 (4.5 to 11 years of age). Each class is approximately 30 children. On the day, we had the pleasure of 20, Year 6 children both boys and girls.

The day started with introductions about what STEM was and finding out what the children thought about the STEM subjects. We then quickly moved into our first activity of making bath bombs. Gillian explained that it was a demonstration of a chemical reaction that would be catalysed by the bath water. The children mixed citric acid and bicarbonate of soda with essential oils and food colouring to make a variety of sweet smelling and colourful bath bombs. The work involved carefully measuring out the ingredients and mixing properly before moulding them. The children and teachers all made bath bombs to take home that night.


Making bath bombs

The second activity was making and using invisible ink. This was made by mixing a base, in this case bicarbonate of soda with water. The children then wrote secret messages to each other (along the lines of “I hate my sister/brother”!) and allowed the ink to dry. To reveal the message an acid was used, in this case grapefruit juice to neutralise the base.

We then had a talk about the dragonfly robot and discussed what sort of skills people need to make a machine like this. We looked at the costs and timescales and explained that it isn’t just STEM subjects but a whole variety of other skills are needed when designing a machine. This was followed by a demonstration and each child got to drive the dragonfly and produce a brightly coloured dye pattern on a paper towel by running a gradient protocol on the dragonfly. The chemicals used in this experiment were bright inks from highlighter pens and this demonstrated how different quantities of material can very accurately be mixed together.

The final experiment of the day was to grow some crystals using a saturated solution of sugar. Each child made up a test tube with a wick dipped in the solution. The sugar crystals should start to form over the rest of the week for them.

We wrapped up with a Q&A session where the children asked lots of questions and told us about their experiences. One boy told us how his brother had undergone chemotherapy and was interested to learn how machines like dragonfly could be used in the fight to find a cure for cancer.

Simon and Gillian were invited to dinner on the promise that we come back and do something else at the school in the future!