With the development of the studies of biochemistry and molecular biology for biological phenomena in molecular level, protein structure analysis and protein drugs have been developed rapidly and applied widely. At the same time, the requirements of high purity, high yield and low cost have been put forward for the upstream protein products. Therefore, it is an aim which research workers diligently pursued to explore novel methods of biological macromolecules identification and separation, and to develop the new materials for efficient separation of proteins and other biomacromolecules.
Many advanced materials and technologies have been developing and applying to the separation and purification of proteins and other biomacromolecules. Wherein, the molecularly imprinted polymers have lots of advantages such as good physical and chemical stability, low cost, easy preparation, and specific recognition, which made them get more and more attention. In the recent 5 years, the numbers of molecular imprinting-related research projects which were carried out only in NSFC support have been become 49, 53, 33, 52 and 44, respectively. And the protein imprinting-related research projects have reached 10. Nowadays, it has been gradually forming a distinctive research direction.
With in-depth research, it is found that biological macromolecules, like protein, are difficult to pass in or out the materials coating imprinting recognition sites, due to their large size, weak functional characteristics and so on. In fact, only the imprinting sites on the surface can play a sufficient role. Therefore, nowadays many research groups in domestic and aboard pay more attention to the study about the preparation and application performance of imprinted materials with large surface area. After the full investigation, it is distinct that although many novel materials show excellent properties, there is a lack of simple and effective monitoring method of the adsorption and desorption process. In consequence, the specific imprinting recognition mechanism of protein molecular imprinted materials is still ambiguous.
In order to further promote the development of protein molecular imprinting technique and consummate the theory of imprinting recognition, we propose carrying out visual monitoring research on the preparation and separation of the protein imprinting liquid crystal photochromic membrane with Professor G. H. Mehl, University of Hull, UK. Based on the study about the structure design of liquid crystal molecular and the interaction between template protein and liquid crystal molecular, Research has been launched about the preparation of protein imprinting liquid crystal photochromic membrane and visual monitoring of separation process, on which simple and effective monitoring method of the imprinting process is constructed and the mechanism of imprinting recognition is clarified. As a result, a theoretical foundation can be established for the applications of this kind of materials in the fields of protein extraction, separation, sensing, immunoassay, controlled drug delivery, etc.