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Finding and Assessing proteIn nano-crystaLs, a Fail fAst STory

Project description

An important technique for characterising proteins gets real-time process monitoring

Proteins are one of nature's most important polymers, ubiquitous in living organisms. Their critical functions are tightly linked to their 3D structures. Characterising these 3D structures is thus fundamental to numerous applications in biomedicine and also to environmental sensing, wastewater treatment and, increasingly, natural solutions in fields ranging from energy to organic electronics. X-ray protein crystallography is an important technique used to determine the 3D position of every atom in a protein from a high concentration of purified protein that is then crystallised. The first and perhaps most difficult step is obtaining crystals of the protein of interest. Typically, many crystallisation conditions must be tried. The EU-funded Fail Fast project is developing methodology to characterise nanocrystal formation before the crystals have grown, putting an end to trial and error for significant benefits in time, money and outcome.


High-resolution protein structures obtained by X-ray diffraction require the production of well-ordered proteins crystals of high quality. However, to produce well-ordered protein crystals, several bottlenecks must be addressed to screen and optimize the thousands of conditions that can lead to crystallization. In this project, we will accelerate the process of protein crystallization by detecting early, i.e. assessing nano-crystal formation and providing immediate feedback, instead of waiting for crystals to grow, thereby saving time and money. We will use nonlinear light scattering that is highly sensitive to crystal formation. In combination with machine learning analysis, we will develop optimization routines to predict the conditions that likely lead to crystallization in a very short time scale, hours, instead of weeks.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
1015 Lausanne

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Région lémanique Vaud
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)