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Justin Kam and Ethan Tang, from Cherrybrook Technology High School, as well as Andre Fisher, from Mount St Benedict College, have been working as interns alongside Tony Jerkovic in The Kings School PC2 Laboratory. Together, they have been working on developing a new technology to assist in plasma fractionation.

Plasma fractionation (the extraction of proteins from blood plasma) has always been complicated, costly and limited in access, especially in developing countries. It is important because it has the potential to provide treatments to people with rare genetic diseases and deficiencies. To address this problem, recent scientific advancements in plasma fractionation have aimed to provide more accessible and affordable fractionation plants all around the world.

Scientific researchers at Aegros Innovations are working to develop modular and more accessible plasma protein fractionation plants to produce biopharmaceuticals (which are molecules derived from living organisms to treat diseases and deficiencies). For example, their process will allow for the efficient extraction of albumin (the major protein by mass in blood plasma). Albumin can then be used to treat shock, burns, hypoalbumenia and loss of blood. Similarly, coagulation factors VIII and IX can be extracted to treat a disease called haemophilia.

The model uses the process of tangential flow electrophoresis to attain pure protein. Tangential flow electrophoresis is a process that moves proteins across a membrane through the use of an electric field. By changing the pH of the proteins, their innate charge can be adjusted (i.e. they can be given a positive or negative charge). This is achieved when the proteins are dissolved in a pH buffer. Furthermore, the proteins pass through a membrane that is made up with the desired pH. The size of the proteins are so small that passing across the membrane is like the distance of a man travelling to the moon. This large distance allows the proteins to adapt to the pH in the membrane. This feature also allows the membranes to separate the proteins by size. Large proteins migrate slower as they pass through a complex path which makes it difficult for them to make swift movements. Therefore, the smaller proteins will migrate quicker.

 

In order to develop the commercial scale modular plasma fractionation device (ElectroCyl), the optimal parameters, such as electrode distance and temperature control needs to be addressed. This is to ensure the highest protein transfer together with high purity and protein integrity. Therefore, Justin, Ethan and Andre have been conducting experiments on a scaled down device (Mini Flow) to simulate the final prototype parameters.

 

               

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