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Cost per project estimate: €5500

- Pre-screening for soaking and harvesting crystals

- Full run up to 500 crystals in 24 hours
- Data collection at the beamline (remote)
Full details of the experimental process is here


Possible Output


Description of service

Fragment-based screening is a powerful approach to early drug ("lead") discovery. X-ray crystallography was one of the first methods used for structural characterisation and is the most directly informative but has not been suitable for primary screening. The X-Chem beamline at Diamond Synchrotron IO4-1 is the facility that provides a streamlined process for Instruct researchers, allowing up to 1000 compounds to be screened individually against a target protein in less than 1 week.


Scientific relevance: a highly optimised pipeline for crystallographic fragment screening.

  • Libraries of well characterised fragments are selected for potential chemical elaboration, validated for use as crystal soaking agents.

  • Highly automated process manages crystal soaking in 96-well plates ready for data collection

  • Robotic crystal feeds allow up to 1000 crystals to be screened and analysed in 2 days with initial data analysis onsite.

  • Provides very sensitive detection of binding sites.

  • Own libraries can be used, but rigorous pre-checks on quality and behaviour in the process are required before use.


1-3 weeks*


*depending on quality of crystals and performance in soak and harvest steps. Iterative steps required.


Gwyndaf Evans

+44 (0) 1235 778164 


Martin Walsh

+44 (0) 1235 778518

Lead Scientist



Example publications of X-Chem use:

  • Prog Biophys Biomol Biol. 2014 Dec; 116(2-3): 92-100. ‘Advantages of crystallographic fragment screening: Functional and mechanistic insights from a powerful platform for efficient drug discovery.’ DishaPatel, Joseph D.Bauman, EddyArnold.

  • Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2019 Jun 17; 377(2147): 20180422. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2018.0422 ‘Structure-guided fragment-based drug discovery at the synchrotron: screening binding sites and correlations with hotspot mapping’

  • Sherine E. Thomas, Patrick Collins, Rory Hennell James, Vitor Mendes, Sitthivut Charoensutthivarakul, Chris Radoux, Chris Abell, Anthony G. Coyne, R. Andres Floto, Frank von Delft and Tom L. Blundell.

Sample Requirements - input of users

Protein crystals available for use (see guidelines on quality and stability).

Information on solvent behaviour, plate type.
Pre-register at the facility.
The steps for preparatory work required are given in detail here

X-Chem fragment screening


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