Semipermeable Membrane-Based Devices for More Efficient Protein Synthesis

Technology #14615

Efficiently Fuels Reactions for Chemical Growth by Separating Feeding and Reaction Chambers

These semipermeable membrane-based devices efficiently synthesize peptides or proteins. By 2018, the peptide therapeutics market will be worth about $25.4 billion. Large peptides become proteins. By 2020, the protein therapeutics market will be worth about $1.5 billion. Growing proteins from a single amino acid to a chain of many amino acids is complicated. For example, chemical reactions require regular supplies of nutrients. Most existing devices for synthesizing cell-free proteins, such as traditional microwell plates, do not include integrated porous membranes and fluid conduits, preventing the replenishment of nutrients. Further, the devices that provide nutrient replenishment mechanisms are often large in size. University of Florida researchers have developed a synthesis apparatus separating the reaction chamber from the feeding chamber. The apparatus includes a semipermeable membrane, allowing for nutrient replenishment. In its vertical orientation, the apparatus yields 100 times more protein than traditional microwell plates. The chambers in the apparatus are also reduced in size, compared to existing array devices, thereby consuming fewer reagents. It can function as an assay for the growing proteomics research industry.


Efficient synthesis of peptides and proteins using a semipermeable membrane to replenish nutrients


  • Provides for miniaturization of the synthesis chambers in an array device, reducing nutrient requirements and costs
  • Increases speed of protein generation, improving overall performance
  • Compatible with existing microcell arrays, reagent dispensers, and plate readers, enhancing flexibility
  • Allows for uniform reagent concentrations, enabling consistent reactions


This apparatus separates the reaction chamber from feeding chamber by a semipermeable membrane. During protein synthesis, the membrane controls the flow of nutrients and byproducts between the chambers, resulting in an increased yield. In its vertical orientation, the apparatus prevents large molecules from getting stuck in the membrane, instead drifting to the bottom. Further, since the membrane itself is semipermeable, small energy molecules from the feeding solution can pass into the reaction solution. Conversely, reaction byproducts can provide additional growth fuel by diffusing from the reaction solution to the feeding solution.