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Protein crystal growth in microgravity

The 'Gulf Shores' Conference, April, 1993, was sponsored by the Center for Macromolecular Crystallography at the U. of Alabama and by NASA. The program, organized by L. DeLucas focused on results of microgravity experiments from Spacelab missions, the physical chemistry of macromolecular crystallization, methods for analysis and control of crystallization, and the automation of protein crystal growth.

The premiere issue of Microgravity News, a publication of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the USA (Fall 1993), also included reports on the success of efforts to obtain more perfect single crystals of proteins and electronic detectors on NASA flights. Significant improvements in size and diffraction quality were reported for Satellite Tobacco Mosaic Virus (A. McPherson), bacteriorhodopsin (G. Wagner), and human serum albumin (D. Carter). L. van den Berg of EG&G and R. Cadoret of the French Space Agency reported the growth of large superior quality crystals of mercuric iodide. Chemical analysis of the latter showed improved purity, and electronic measurements revealed improved characteristics relative to crystals grown on earth. To get on the mailing list for Microgravity News, write to V.E. Beckner, Editor, The Bionetics Corp., 250 E. St., SW, Suite 340, Washington, DC 20024, (202) 863‑1223.