If the crystals are grown upside down in a strong magnetic field, fluid flows that disrupt crystal growth are suppressed. Therefore, high-quality proteins no longer need to be grown in space, but can be grown here on earth.
Protein crystals provide vital knowledge for drug development. The production of an effective drug requires knowledge of how biomolecules such as body proteins are constructed. If you want to know how proteins work, you must first of all determine their molecular structure using X-ray diffraction.
This requires exceptionally high-quality protein crystals. However, allowing these to grow can be extremely difficult and sometimes even impossible: the presence of gravity gives rise to fluid flows in the crystal solution, which, in turn, disrupt the growth process. Undisturbed growth yields the finest crystals.
Paul Poodt (Zevenaar, 1979) studied physical chemistry. His PhD research - supported by the Open Competition of NWO Chemical Sciences - is part of the programme of the Institute for Molecules and Material (IMM) of the Radboud University Nijmegen.
Sonja Knols | alfa
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