Protein crystallization is a very common technique in pharmacology, but it carries some problems that, according to NASA, could be solved by moving laboratories into space.

The European Columbus module, installed on the International Space Station.

The protein play a fundamental role in the organism of living beings, developing functions as important as defense against infections, the acceleration of reactions indispensable for the life or the formation and maintenance of all kinds of structures.

Therefore, it is important to know in depth the composition, behavior and structure of each and every protein, since it makes it possible to reproduce them in the laboratory and use them as drug when naturally one of them is defective or needs to be reinforced.

In addition, reproductions of proteins characteristic of a species for him development of drugs to treat diseases typical of another, but how is it possible to synthesize these molecules accurately?

One of the most used methods since the 60’s has been the crystallization, since the proteins individually and in solution are too small and mobile to study them in depth, whereas if they form crystals they remain rigid and with a size that makes their analysis easier through the diffraction to which the X-rays they are subjected in this type of solids.

Earth: hostile planet for crystallization

The major problem with crystallization is that it has often been observed that protein molecules merge into each other randomly, forming aggregates that can alter the crystal and make it more difficult to analyze with X-rays.

In search of a solution to this problem, a NASA team, led by Lawrence DeLucas As principal investigator, he has carried out the development of protein crystals in the International Space Station, where the environment of microgravedad favors a crystallization process slower, so that very seldom occurs protein fusion, resulting in purest crystals and easy to study.

This procedure is very costly, due to the obvious logistical difficulties involved in sending the entire crystallization laboratory to the space, but these NASA scientists hope that, once demonstrated its potential in the field of pharmacology and medicineIncrease investment in your research, which will only be able to come to fruition with the necessary financial support.

Medicine’s journey into space has only just begun, but just imagining where it can go is exciting.