Protein Crystal Growth
- Created: Wednesday, 01 January 2003
Proteins are the chemical building blocks from which all human cells, organs, and tissues are made. They also serve as the hormones, enzymes, and antibodies that help the body fight off invading germs. Determining the structure of a protein enables medical researchers to create pharmaceuticals that will either help or prevent a protein from doing its job. Through a process known as structure-based drug design, researchers use the knowledge of a protein’s structure to develop new drugs to treat a variety of diseases. The predominate method of determining a protein’s structure is by X-ray crystallography, which involves growing protein crystals and exposing them to an X-ray beam to determine their atomic structure.
With a mission to make drug discovery easier, faster, and more affordable, DSI manufactures and markets products based on the crystallography and structure-based drug design research conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering (CBSE), a NASA Commercial Space Center. Formed as a CBSE spinoff company in 1995, DSI has received several SBIR contracts from both NASA and the National Institutes of Health to develop products that support crystal growth for all crystallographic applications, including drug design and protein engineering. The CBSE’s commercial research is made possible through NASA’s Space Product Development Program, a partnership between NASA, academia, and U.S. industry.