First biomolecular structure experiment at SwissFEL

Villigen, Switzerland, October 10th 2018 – leadXpro determined the first protein structure at SwissFEL.

SwissFEL is one of only five Free Electron Laser facilities in the world capable of producing hard X-rays suitable for the investigation of protein structures. “After ten years of meticulous planning and construction, a dream has turned into reality and we can now conduct unprecedented experiments on traditionally hard-to-study biological molecules such as membrane protein drug targets. We were impressed to see how reliable the instrument and the custom designed X-ray detector worked!” says Rafael Abela, the past SwissFEL project leader of photonics and one of the co-founders of leadXpro.

The experiment was done with careful preparation of GPCR crystals grown in lipidic cubic phase (LCP). “Key to the success of the experiment was sample preparation in order to optimize sample delivery and data collection efficiency of GPCR crystals using the LCP jet that was originally developed by the Arizona Universtity and licensed by leadXpro to enable commercial application.” remarks Robert Cheng, principal scientist at leadXpro. “We collected high quality data from the start and could determine the structure readily. This gives us great confidence regarding the quality and the reliability of the SwissFEL, the novel Jungfrau 16M detector and computing infrastructure, as well as the expertise of supporting beamline scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).” We anticipate SwissFEL will speed up the structure determination of many challenging membrane protein drug targets. In addition, routine room temperature structure determination and investigation of time-resolved structural dynamics of ligand binding will provide insight not obtainable using the conventional cryo-crystallography method for the development of novel medicine. leadXpro will have regular access to SwissFEL for proprietary research starting in 2019.

Further information on the recent experiment and the collaboration with PSI can be viewed at:

About leadXpro AG

leadXpro is a lead discovery company focusing on membrane protein drug targets. We are committed to the application of biophysical and structure-based methods for the discovery and optimization of next generation lead compounds. leadXpro’s technology platform enables structural determination of membrane proteins where classical crystallographic techniques fail, unlocking structure-based drug discovery for challenging targets. We capitalize on the knowledge regarding membrane protein structural biology and facilities of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) with premium access to the synchrotron Swiss Light Source(SLS) and the Free Electron Laser (SwissFEL). Core expertise beyond X-ray include single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). For more information, please

leadXpro is a registered trademark in the EU, Switzerland, US and Canada.

Contact: info (at)