Professor Naomi Chayen’s paper about designing the first nucleation inducing agents for automated crystallization trials so that they can be used for high throughput, has just come out in the March issue of Acta D 71, 534-540 and has also been highlighted as Research News by the International Union of Crystallography. She also has a commercial product called ‘Chayen Reddy MIP’ beeing launched by Imperial Innovations this week.
The work describes the design, fabrication and validation of the first non protein nucleating agent made specifically for robotic crystallisation experiments. The nucleating agent is called molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP; known as ‘smart material’). MIPs are created to contain nano cavities similar to the sizes of protein molecules. These MIPs are dispensed using commercially available robots and their application bypasses the concerns associated with seeding and solid heterogeneous nucleants. The MIPs are effective in finding new crystallization conditions and in improving crystal quality.
The research has paved the way to commercialization by Imperial Innovations – leading to a patented product called ‘Chayen Reddy MIP’ that can be used for the automated screening and optimization of any biomacromolecule. The application of these materials is simple and 20 nanolitres is sufficient for each trial, thus this will provide a potent tool for scientists in academia and industry.