Space Shuttle Experiment

Growing a protein crystal in space was the first Canadian experiment conducted on board a space shuttle. The experiment, developed by University of Saskatchewan biochemist Louis Delbaere, was selected for NASA’s Discovery shuttle in 1990; two years later another of his experiments was conducted on Mir, the Russian space station.

The results showed that protein crystals grown in space are of better quality than when grown on earth. The protein crystal grown in 1992 on the Mir space station provided information on antibody-antigen interaction, a fundamental process of the immune system whereby antibodies recognize and bind to foreign particles called antigens, which are subsequently removed from the body.

Joe Ralko