In August 2019 3D Bioprinting Solutions carried out a high molecular weight protein crystallization experiment on board the ISS with Organ.Aut magnetic bioprinter and specials cuvettes (fig. 1a). In this experiment scientists and engineers from 3DBio used a new method – magnetic sedimentation of protein molecules in a paramagnetic solution in a inhomogenous magnetic field and diffusion of the precipitator into protein solution.
The Organ.Aut magnetic bioprinter creates a high-gradient inhomogenous magnetic field with a magnetic well in the center of the active area. The cuvettes ensure delivery, process initiation, fixation and return to Earth of the resulting samples. The results show the prospective application of this method to create high-quality protein crystals.
The resulting crystals vary in size from 300 to 1500 micrometers, most of them are of regular form (figure 1b.). They are also distributed three-dimensionally in the active area, which contributed to varying crystal growth conditions due to inhomogenous nature of the magnetic field and concentration gradient of the precipitator.
To obtain an ideal crystal, it is necessary to ensure uniform access to the substance. On Earth, gravity prevents it. But in space there are almost ideal conditions for the crystals growth. There, molecules can integrate into the crystal evenly from all sides. And the more perfect the crystal, the higher the accuracy with which we determine the structure of the macromolecule.
Magnetic bioprinter can be used in the following studies and experiments, with various cuvettes and materials, which could potentially lead to unique protein crystals, which are only achievable in space. The crystals grow in specially selected solutions acting on the protein in such a way that its macromolecules, when combined, form a strictly ordered crystalline structures. Their study will help scientists in creating more effective drugs that affect viruses and bacteria at the molecular level.