Chen Lab

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Paul Dubin has been awarded NSF Research Grant

Paul  Dubin

Professor Paul Dubin and Lianhong Sun have been awarded $300,000 from NSF for their project "Protein purification by selective coacervation," for the development of large scale separations of recombinant protein drugs. These ushered in a new era in the treatment of illnesses such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and as therapies in organ replacement, and wound repair. Protein purification methods however have not kept up with the molecular biology, and now are major issues in the cost of these new drugs. We are using synthetic polyelectrolytes for large scale purification of protein mixtures by “selective coacervation”, a process in which the polyelectrolyte forms a dense liquid phase with the target protein. We showed that proteins differing in only one amino acid can be separated from each other this way, an astonishing result for non-specific electrostatic binding to a safe, inexpensive commercial polyelectrolyte. This grant will be used to verify yield and selectivity for model and real systems, refine methods for removing polyelectrolytes, and develop basic understanding leading to predictive capability including the design of tailored polyelectrolytes.

(March 2010)