Engineered Programmable Molecular Scaffolds from Porous Protein Crystals


Available for Licensing
TRL: 5

IP Status

US Utility Patent: US 10590176 B2​


Christopher Snow
Thaddaus R Huber

Figure 1 (Left): Example of Controlled Loading/Unloading of porous crystals (Acidic Elution of mNG)
At A Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a newly patented class of protein crystals that serve as scaffolds to precisely organize diverse guest domains (such as proteins, nucleic acids, nanoparticles, and small molecules) in three-dimensional space.  Unlike other materials, engineered protein crystals are sufficiently organized to allow high-resolution structure determination, yet enable site-specific changes via genetic or chemical modification.  This platform nanotechnology is a key advantage in advanced material engineering where precisely positioned active domains are required.

Licensing Manager

Jessy McGowan

Reference No.:  16-002


A key motivation for nano-biotechnology efforts is the creation of designer materials in which the assembly acts to organize functional domains in three dimensions. Crystalline materials are ideal from the validation perspective because X-ray diffraction can elucidate the atomic structure. Relatively little work has focused on engineering protein crystals as scaffolds for nanotechnology, due to the technical challenges of coaxing typical proteins into crystallizing, and the likelihood of disrupting the crystallization process if changes are made to the monomers.

  • Highly stable
  • Controlled loading and unloading
  • Engineered for non-covalent and covalent capture of guest macromolecules
  • Allow for programmed placement within materials
  • Integrated crystals have spatially segregated loading patterns
  • Immobilized enzymes or enzyme pathways (protein zeolites)
  • Host-guest approach to structure determination via x-ray diffraction
  • Advanced delivery sensing or theragnostic materials
  • Transport of therapeutic macromolecules for advanced drug delivery applications
  • Confinement of fluorescent guests for biodegradable and adaptable biosensors

Huber, Thaddaus R2017, et al. “Installing Guest Molecules at Specific Sites within Scaffold Protein Crystals.” Bioconjugate Chemistry, Dec. 2017,

Kowalski, Ann E., et al. “Porous Protein Crystals as Scaffolds for Enzyme Immobilization.” Biomaterials Science, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 28 Jan. 2019,!divAbstract.

Last updated: February 2020

Add keywords or various names of inventors here (text is hidden)

#TBT to #TechTuesday – #CSUInvents! Technical challenges exist in the creation of designer #materials in which the assembly acts to organize functional domains in #3d. Researchers at Colorado State University, CSU Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering have developed a newly #patented class of #protein #crystals that serve as #scaffolding to precisely organize diverse guest domains (such as #proteins#nucleicacids#nanoparticles, and #smallmolecules) in three-dimensional space. Inventors include: CSU Professor Christopher Snow and Thaddaus Huber (#postdoc #fellow at the Washington Research Foundation/WRF CapitalInstitute for Protein Design, University of Washington).

#innovation #zeolite #crystallography #bionanotechnology #nano