VitroJet for Cells

Cell vitrification to enable the study of structure and dynamics of macromolecular complexes within their native environment

The project aims to develop enabling technology for optimal sample preparation of entire cells by jet vitrification in a consistent and automated manner. This technology enables the study of macromolecules within their native cellular environment, which provides fundamental knowledge to develop novel medicines. The VitroJet for Cells technology builds upon extensive experience within Maastricht University on sample preparation for cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) for single particle analysis. Its four patents are licensed to CryoSol World BV. Within this project a next generation device will be developed. 

The expected societal contribution is the enhanced and accelerated development of targeted medicines, rational drugs and structural vaccinology (e.g. to combat antibiotic resistance). The VitroJet for Cells technology enables the fundamental precondition to analyse pathologic vs healthy cells and gain 3D insight in the targets these drugs will act upon. 

They will perform fundamental research to study smartly chosen parameters that influence cell vitrification and generate optimal preparation protocols. The protocols will be evaluated by executing the entire workflow of cell analysis both by state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) as well as advanced synchrotron X-ray diffraction techniques. Complementary to this they will perform industrial research to develop the TRL 6 functional model starting from the current basic mathematical model of jet vitrification. Resulst of the fundamental part serve to incrementally improve the complex system in controlled manner.

The TRL 6 concept serves to engage in business development activities such as organising demonstrations, marketing the product and initiating close customer contact. This will result in setting up beta-testing collaborations, in which a minimal viable product (TRL 7-8), will be offered to launching customers by CryoSol World BV. The cryo-EM community is very well organised and can easily be reached by our lead partner.

To develop novel nanomedicines, it is necessary to assess the macromolecular structure-function relations within their cellular environment. This project tackles the crucial step in cell sample preparation by developing enabling vitrification technology from TRL 2 to a TRL 6 level. Evaluation is performed with cryo-electron microscopy in collaboration with potential customers
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
2 - 6
Time period
4 years