Navigation Links
University of Houston engineering researcher's theories to be tested in space

A University of Houston chemical and biomolecular engineering professor's theories on crystal formation will be tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Professor Peter Vekilov received a grant from NASA to study how proteins in a liquid solution nucleate, or form crystals. While researchers understand how crystals grow, they want to know more about how they transform from liquid to crystal.

Vekilov discovered in 2004 that before forming a crystal, proteins in a solution come together in dense droplets, where they possibly begin to unfold into the shape they have when crystalized.

His theory was proved through direct observation three years later, but there is still much about this phenomenon that is not understood. For example, crystallization processes that work well in a small volume of solution often do not work at all when scaled up to industrial-size levels of 100 or 1,000 liters the amounts used to produce medicines, chemicals and other products.

Vekilov believes this is largely due to sheer flow, meaning the uneven flow of liquid in a system, such as a river. But he cannot effectively test his theory on earth because gravity affects sheer flow.

NASA awarded Vekilov a grant of nearly $100,000 to further his research in space.

"We have relevant scientific questions that can only be answered by doing experiments in space. We hope to see a difference between the nucleation rate on earth and in space," Vekilov said.

His experiments will be performed by astronauts affiliated with the European Space Agency, most likely in 2016. Meanwhile, Vekilov and his European collaborators will build instrumentation and conduct additional research on nucleation and sheer flow to gather data and develop better models of the process.

Vekilov hopes to develop a deep understanding of sheer flow's impact on protein crystal nucleation, which can be used to design small-scale experiments that mirror the sheer flow in industrial-scale crystal production. As a result, it will be easier to scale up lab work to large volumes.


Contact: Laura Tolley
University of Houston

Related biology news :

1. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
2. University of Alberta led research may have discovered how memories are encoded in our brains
3. BGI, University of Helsinki and Wuhan University sign a MOU concerning cooperation on genomics
4. Marshall University study may lead to new treatments for prostate cancer
5. University leads £6 million EU project to tackle obesity
6. A University of Tennessee professors hypothesis may be game changer for evolutionary theory
7. Life expectancy may affect when you get married, divorced, have kids: Queens University study
8. University of Toronto biologists predict extinction for organisms with poor quality genes
9. University of Minnesota invention helps advance reliability of alternative energy
10. Israel names Tel Aviv Universitys Renewable Energy Center a Center of Research Excellence
11. University of Minnesota startup offers game-changing energy solutions that reduce CO2 emissions
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/8/2015)... Oktober 2015 Die Track Group, ... des Bereiches Tracking, hat heute bekannt gegeben, ... Virginias (Department of Corrections – DOC) unterzeichnet ... alle Strafen geliefert werden, die der Behörde ... für den Amerikanischen Kontinent der Track Group. ...
(Date:10/6/2015)... 2015 Track Group, Inc. (OTCQX: TRCK), a ... signed a contract with the Virginia Department of Corrections ... of sentences under the Department,s oversight. Derek ... contract with the Virginia DOC will expand our footprint ... our position as a trusted leader in offender electronic ...
(Date:10/1/2015)... Oct. 1, 2015  Biometrics includes diverse set ... body characteristics, such as fingerprints, eye retinas, facial ... of biometrics technology has been constantly increasing in ... five years. In addition to the most prominent ... recognition, other means of biometric authentication are rapidly ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... recombinant antibodies, today announced that it has received a Phase I Small Business ... by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), will fund the development ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , October 13, 2015 ... and development company, has entered into a strategic relationship ... and Paris, France ... --> --> This collaborative arrangement gives ... respected scientific advisory team as well as long established ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015  According to Kalorama ... will reach $102 billion by the end of ... the health industry, as it is estimated that ... of laboratory tests. In addition to diagnosing patients, ... evaluate disease progression, monitor drug treatment and conditions, ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... of automation systems, material handling solutions and components, is opening its latest Parker ... State Street, the facility is Exotic’s second major expansion in Metropolitan Detroit in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: