Fine-Tuned Protein Capture Technique Could Aid Drug Manufacture

A critical step in drug manufacture is the separation of "proteins of interest" – the active elements in drugs – from other materials. The primary method used is ion-exchange chromatography, which is like using a colander to separate cooked pasta from water, and it involves many phases. "Our fundamental understanding of this process at the level where proteins bind to ligands, which basically drives several different industries, is ridiculously small," says Rice University chemist Christy Landes. Now, Landes and her team have created a way to fine-tune the process. A combination of the Rice technique that provides pinpoint locations for single proteins and a theory that describes those proteins' interactions with other molecules could widen a bottleneck in the manufacture of drugs by making the process of isolating proteins five times more efficient.