Protein Separation Techniques

Sue Cresswell, Pharmacia Biosystems Limited, Milton Keynes, UK

Copyright © 1998 Elsevier Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Our understanding of the biochemical processes involved in living systems has progressed at an increasingly rapid pace over recent decades. Underlying these developments has been the ability to understand and describe the structural basis of the biological function of biomolecules. The isolation, purification and characterization of these biomolecules, typically proteins, has been crucial to this process.

Separation of a protein is nowadays rarely a major project, but has become a routine requirement for many research programs. The separation must, therefore, be performed smoothly and efficiently to enable the mainstream work to continue. Similarly, we see the need for large-scale protein production from a wide variety of biological sources for subsequent clinical application (e.g. vaccines, antibodies, recombinant proteins). Here, too, the purification must be efficient, cost-effective and safe.

This constant demand on technologies to produce more efficient, easy-to-use and inexpensive techniques for protein separation has produced a fascinating array of media and instrumentation. However, to many workers coming into the area of protein separation for the first time, this selection must seem somewhat daunting rather than fascinating. It is hoped that this brief review will put into perspective the major techniques available and how they interrelate during a protein separation process. It is not intended to include precise technical details, but to outline the basic principles involved and their interrelationships.

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