This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is for the development of technology to crystallize proteins using less sample and with higher speed and success than current high throughput protein crystallization methods. Protein crystallization is an intermediate step in determining the precise three-dimensional shape of a protein, and proteins are involved in virtually every cellular process. Precise knowledge of the three-dimensional shapes of proteins is very useful in a wide variety of applications, especially in predicting which drug candidates (each with a known shape) can bind to and potentially alter a particular protein?s function. It would also allow specific design of drugs to bind to sites identified on a target protein, thus increasing the potential for regulation of that protein.
The broader impacts of this research will be a drastic reduction in the amount of time, money, and human effort necessary to develop new drugs thereby improving general overall health and reducing the cost of healtcare. Since many diseases are caused by perturbations in the function of one or more proteins in a cellular pathway, a method for quick and inexpensive analysis of protein structure would have far-reaching benefits to patients worldwide. Improvements in structural data acquisition will streamline basic proteomics research and revolutionize the process of drug discovery and development through enhanced scientific and technological understanding of underlying processes. The commercial value of this project arises from substantial conservation of manpower and funding, and will allow large pharmaceutical companies, as well as smaller biotechnology companies and academic scientists, to extend and enhance their research programs.