Invention could help pharmaceutical industry save money

May 01, 2012

Two Michigan State University researchers have invented a protein purifier that could help pharmaceutical companies save time and money.

The details of the invention, which appear in a recent issue of the journal Langmuir, demonstrate that MSU chemists Merlin Bruening and Greg Baker's high-performance membranes are highly suitable for protein purification, a crucial step in the development of some .

Purifying proteins, the process of isolating a single, desired protein from all others, is an expensive, time-consuming hurdle that contributes to the high cost of some prescription drugs. Obtaining pure proteins, however, is a necessary step to increasing these drugs' effectiveness and safety. Streamlining the process could help manufacturers reduce costs, speed new drugs to consumers and reduce pharmaceutical costs, Bruening said.

"The devices that we've manufactured can simplify protein purification by rapidly capturing the desired protein as it flows through membrane pores," said Bruening, who has patented the process and is working to scale up his invention. "Our membranes have two to three times more capacity than existing commercial devices, and they should reduce the purification process time substantially. Typically, our procedures are complete in 30 minutes or less."

The pursuit of a comparable, but complex purification procedure led to the discovery of the researchers' simpler invention. Bruening and his colleague were trying to grow extended in the membranes in a multistep, oxygen-free process. Untangling the complexities of the first method led to the revelation that direct adsorption of acidic polymers at low pH is much simpler yet accomplishes the same task of creating extended polymer in the pores. (The purifier uses adsorption rather than absorption; the filter attracts contaminants to its surface rather than sucks them up like a sponge.)

"Once our findings began steering us toward the simpler solution, we began developing simple processes to modify membranes by simply flowing solutions through the membranes," Bruening said.

The next challenge for Bruening and his colleagues will be to upscale his invention so that rapid with inexpensive membranes becomes a standard for not only , but also researchers trying to rapidly isolate proteins to determine their structure and function.

Explore further: Chemists find a way to unboil eggs

Related Stories

Instruction Manual for Creating a Molecular Nose

Feb 12, 2007

An artificial nose could be a real benefit at times: this kind of biosensor could sniff out poisons, explosives or drugs, for instance. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and the Max ...

Artificial Nanopores Take Analyte Pulse

Jul 31, 2007

Resistive pulse sensing represents a very attractive method for identifying and quantifying biomedical species such as drugs, DNA, proteins, and viruses in solution.

Recommended for you

Cell imaging gets colorful

14 hours ago

The detection and imaging of protein-protein interactions in live cells just got a lot more colourful, thanks to a new technology developed by University of Alberta chemist Dr. Robert E. Campbell and his ...

New strategy to combat 'undruggable' cancer molecule

14 hours ago

Three of the four most fatal cancers are caused by a protein known as Ras; either because it mutates or simply because it ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ras has proven an elusive target for ...

Chemists find a way to unboil eggs

16 hours ago

UC Irvine and Australian chemists have figured out how to unboil egg whites – an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.