I, cosmonaut Aleksei Ovchinin, shall tell You about biotechnological experiment Struktura which will be performed by cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka.
SE Structura is dedicated to production of high-quality crystals of recombinant proteins, i.e. proteins DNA of which was created artificially by genetic engineering. Principal investigator of the experiment is Russian enterprise Biopreparat.
The protein crystals are grown for X-ray diffraction analysis necessary to study a spatial structure of proteins and features of synthesis of this drug and biological substrate of the body cell. Knowledge of biomolecule spatial structure in combination with physicochemical data allows to simulate its structural and functional features more fully, that is used to produce effective medical drugs and diagnostic and preventive preparations without side effects.
For X-ray diffraction analysis, large and high-quality crystals are required; it is difficult to produce such crystals under terrestrial conditions because of the presence of gravity and convection phenomena. Therefore, the most optimal conditions for crystallization of proteins are space conditions.
Now we are in the Service Module where Oleg Skripochka begins to conduct activation of the protein crystallization processes. In the experiment science hardware Luch-2M is used; it is intended to grow the protein monocrystals by dialysis (dialysis is a process of the particle separation from the solution due to the difference in the diffusion rate) and the vapor diffusion (the hanging drop method).
The concept of action is based on the effect of slow (thermodynamic equilibrium) change of the precipitant concentration in the protein solution.
The hardware consists of 4 universal biocrystallization cassettes; in each cassette there are 4 biocrystallizers (4 cells), each cell has a protein solution chamber with a membrane, which is separated from the precipitant solution chamber by the valve. The valve closes and opens by moving the actuator which is located at the bottom of each universal biocrystallization cassette.
Universal Biocrystallization Cassette
At the moment Oleg Skripochka performs an active part of experiment Struktura using hardware Luch-2M. To start the crystallization process it is necessary to remove the lock and move the actuator pressing button On. After this procedure the hardware is located in its exposure place adjacent to kit Ulitka.
The hardware will be returned to ground together with Yuri Malenchenko crew. The last day before the return to ground the hardware will be switched off – the crystallization process will be completed. After the return to ground the hardware will be transferred to the principal investigator of the experiment for analysis.
Thank You for attention!