Chemical engineers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have developed a new filtration system to enable scientists and engineers to separate and purify two different kinds of proteins having relatively close molecular weight. Until now, doing such separations with membrane filtration was impossible. This research was reported in the June 20, 2004 issue of Biotechnology and Bioengineering.
"This is good news," said Kamalesh K. Sirkar, PhD, distinguished professor of chemical engineering and the projects lead researcher. "To separate the good from the bad proteins is an important engineering breakthrough. We believe that pharmaceutical companies will immediately be able to put our research to work."
Before this invention, proteins had to differ five to six times in their molecular weight, before a scientist or engineer could separate them using a process called ultra-filtration. "Now using a new kind of membrane that we invented at NJIT, the proteins can have almost the same molecular weight," said Sirkar. The process also will be more cost-effective because the machines can run on a continuous basis.
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