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Kibo Utilization Office for Asia (KUOA)

Protein Crystal Growth Experiment of Thailand will start! - Aiming for the development of a new antimalarial medicine -

Last Updated: June 18, 2019

GISTDA (Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency)and JAXA signed an agreement to conduct Thailand's first space experiment: The PROTEIN CRYSTAL GROWTH EXPERIMENT on the International Space Station.
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".

Fig 1. Mr. Masanobu Tsuji, Director of JAXA Bangkok Office (left) and
Dr. Anond Snidvongs, Executive Director of GISTDA (right) (Credit: 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).

This collaboration is possible due to JAXA's high quality protein crystal growth technology which is appreciated by Thailand. With this opportunity, we hope that Thailand and Japan's collaboration of "Kibo" will contribute to the development of space utilization technology in the Asian region and to the development of beneficial cooperation between space agencies.
JAXA is greatly honored to contribute toward SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) through this collaborative experiment with GISTDA and NSTDA.

Fig 2. Research team of Japan and Thailand (Credit: JAXA)

Fig 3. Protein sample delivered from Thailand (Credit: JAXA)

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

Comment by Dr. Ammarin Pimnoo, Project Manager of National Space Exploration (NSE), GISTDA

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) by 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 Thai people and all humankind. Moreover, the space experiment will be awareness for Thai scientists and researchers as well as Startups to understand and figure out an opportunity of space utilization.

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