From Yahoo – Space.com (contributor)
Crystals of proteins that could be useful in medical research can be grown bigger and better in space than on Earth, according to the results of experiments performed on the International Space Station.
Medical research often focuses on examining how proteins work. That can include learning how to use proteins in medicines, or finding proteins that cause problems for humans and making drugs to fight them. A better understanding of a protein’s 3D structure can, for example, help scientists improve how well a medicine works, or find out the best ways to kill a germ.
To decipher a protein’s 3D structure, researchers often make the protein into a crystal (so it is frozen in a rigid pose) and then scan the crystals with X-rays or neutron beams. The larger and purer a protein crystal is, the better the chance that scientists can work out that protein’s 3D structure.