Large scale crystallization of protein pharmaceuticals in microgravity via temperature change
- Long, Marianna M.
- JAN 1, 1992.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
- The major objective of this research effort is the temperature driven growth of protein crystals in large batches in the microgravity environment of space. Pharmaceutical houses are developing protein products for patient care, for example, human insulin, human growth hormone, interferons, and tissue plasminogen activator or TPA, the clot buster for heart attack victims. Except for insulin, these are very high value products; they are extremely potent in small quantities and have a great value per gram of material. It is feasible that microgravity crystallization can be a cost recoverable, economically sound final processing step in their manufacture. Large scale protein crystal growth in microgravity has significant advantages from the basic science and the applied science standpoints. Crystal growth can proceed unhindered due to lack of surface effects. Dynamic control is possible and relatively easy. The method has the potential to yield large quantities of pure crystalline product. Crystallization is a time honored procedure for purifying organic materials and microgravity crystallization could be the final step to remove trace impurities from high value protein pharmaceuticals. In addition, microgravity grown crystals could be the final formulation for those medicines that need to be administered in a timed release fashion. Long lasting insulin, insulin lente, is such a product. Also crystalline protein pharmaceuticals are more stable for long-term storage. Temperature, as the initiation step, has certain advantages. Again, dynamic control of the crystallization process is possible and easy. A temperature step is non-invasive and is the most subtle way to control protein solubility and therefore crystallization. Seeding is not necessary. Changes in protein and precipitant concentrations and pH are not necessary. Finally, this method represents a new way to crystallize proteins in space that takes advantage of the unique microgravity environment. The results from two flights showed that the hardware performed perfectly, many crystals were produced, and they were much larger than their ground grown controls. Morphometric analysis was done on over 4,000 crystals to establish crystal size, size distribution, and relative size. Space grown crystals were remarkably larger than their earth grown counterparts and crystal size was a function of PCF volume. That size distribution for the space grown crystals was a function of PCF volume may indicate that ultimate size was a function of temperature gradient. Since the insulin protein concentration was very low, 0.4 mg/ml, the size distribution could also be following the total amount of protein in each of the PCF's. X-ray analysis showed that the bigger space grown insulin crystals diffracted to higher resolution than their ground grown controls. When the data were normalized for size, they still indicated that the space crystals were better than the ground crystals.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19930013459.
Accession ID: 93N22648.
NASA, Washington, Space Station Freedom Utilization Conference; p 531-552.
- No Copyright.
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