NASA/July 17, 1997 MSL-1 Science Wrapup - Biotechnology
Better Health Through Crystals Biotechnology on MSL-1
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protein crystal growth (PCG) program continued its use of outer space to
study the inner space of human biology. Crystals grown of proteins from
humans, plants and animals, and viruses and bacteria are helping scientists
become sophisticated safecrackers who can decipher how a disease works and
then padlock the machinery. Growth in the weightlessness of space yields
crystals that are better than those grown on Earth.
MSL-1 carried three sets of experiments, the Second-generation Vapor Diffusion Apparatus (VDA-2), Handheld Diffusion Test Cells (HH-DTC; shown here), and the Protein Crystallization Apparatus for Microgravity (PCAM). The first two had windows to allow TV peeks at the crystals which were growing well. In the HH-DTC, scientists could see well defined crystals of hen white lysozyme and triglycine sulfate, two chemicals that will help understand PCG better. The results from all three experiments will come over the next few months in ground-based analyses. Earlier flights already have yielded several potentially promising treatments.