Biomolecule Crystallization Microarray

Period of Performance: 05/15/2002 - 05/14/2003


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Techshot, Inc.
7200 Highway 150 Array
Greenville, IN 47124
Principal Investigator


The proposed innovation is a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) for automated, kinetically controlled growth of biomolecule crystals for crystallography. Central to the innovation are two novel components: a peristaltic micropump that delivers nL/s flows and a flow sensor that measures such flows. Pumps and sensors will allow delivery of buffer, precipitant, and biomolecule solutions to an array of 10-muL microreactors at individually controlled flow rats. The three pumps serving each microreactor will be coordinated to maintain optimized nucleation conditions and separately optimized crystal growth conditions. Active control requires monitoring of nucleating/growing crystals, so a Phase I survey of optical and electronic methods will identify aan appropriate monitoring technology for Phase II implementation. A stand-alone Phase microreactor, served by precision laboratory syringe pumps, will be tested by growing hen egg-white lysozyme crystals under controlled optimized conditions. Thus, Phase I has three Specific Aims: (1) microfabrication and testing of the micropump and flow sensor, (2) selection of a crystallization monitoring method, and (3) fabrication and testing of a stand-alone feed-controlled crystallization microreactor. In Phase II, the elements will be assembled into a prototype crystallizer, and then an array of simultaneously operable reactors will be built for beta testing. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: Nearly all of the world's large pharmaceutical firms and major research universities crystallize macromolecules for crystallography. Successful automation and miniaturization of this highly iterative, professional- labor-intensive process could effect annual savings estimated at billions of dollars. SHOT, Inc., intends to sell this product into a market with which the Company is familiar.