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Protein crystal growth experiment aiming to aid development of a new antimalarial medicine

(18 June 2019 - JAXA) GISTDA (Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency)and JAXA have signed an agreement to conduct Thailand's first space experiment: The Protein Crystal Growth Experiment on the International Space Station.

On June 17, 2019, both Dr. Anond Snidvongs, Executive Director of GISTDA, and Mr. Masanobu Tsuji, Director of JAXA Bangkok Office, complimented the start of this cooperative venture utilizing "Kibo".

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Mr. Masanobu Tsuji, Director of JAXA Bangkok Office (left) and Dr. Anond Snidvongs, Executive Director of GISTDA (right) (courtesy: GISTDA/JAXA)

The purpose of this experiment is to grow high quality crystals of the target enzymes using JAXA's high quality protein crystal growth technology. The crystals will be used to conduct precise structural analysis of enzymes, which are important for the development of a new antimalarial medicine. Since Malaria is a serious disease in equatorial countries that infects more than 200 million people and kills more than 400,000 people each year, the development of new medicine is necessary. The Principal Investigator is Dr. Chairat Uthaipibull of NSTDA (National Science and Technology Development Agency).

Currently, the optimization of crystallization conditions is being carried out for the Thai protein samples so that they are suitable for the space experiments. After optimization, they will be sealed in a crystallization vessel and transported to the NASA Kennedy Space Center under temperature control. The experimant will be launched to "Kibo" by SpX-18 in July 2019 and the experiment will begin.

National Space Exploration (NSE), an integrated project of Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) has conducted a space experiment with the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) under the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) for the Crystallization of Protein Target for Anti-Malarial Drug (CPTAMD) in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). NSE/GISTDA would like to leverage the space science research for Thailand and hopefully this Protein Crystallization in Space of BIOTEC/NSTDA collaborated with GISTDA will be utilized to develop an Anti-Malaria Drug for the Thai people and all humankind.