About SMALP


Styrene-maleic anhydride (SMA) copolymers are used as a detergent-free approach for membrane protein solubilization, isolation and subsequent characterization in downstream methods.
SMA copolymers have proven their value in the solubilization, purification, and characterization of a variety of membrane proteins, as described in over 200 scientific articles including comprehensive review articles. An up-to-date literature overview is being kept tracked of on the page of our partner www.SMALP.net.

By clicking on this link below you will find the elaborated scientific research in the form of a PhD thesis of SMA copolymers in the solubilization of model lipid membranes and study of photosynthetic membrane proteins (2016). The author, Stefan Scheidelaar PhD, is currently the SMALP® expert in our Polyscience® team.

Download the pdf

In a single detergent-free step, membrane proteins are isolated with co-purified native lipids forming Styrene Maleic Acid Lipid Particles (SMALP), sometimes referred to as native nanodiscs or Lipodisqs™.
Compared to traditionally used detergents, SMA copolymers offer several advantages including the following:

  • Isolated proteins are in their native lipid environment. The average nanodisc including lipids and polymer is approx. 10-20 nm in diameter,
  • No complicated prior screening is required. SMA copolymers performs well in majority of expression systems, including bacterial, mammalian, plants (thylakoids), and yeast,
  • Works well for a broad range of membrane protein classes, including ABC- transporters, ion channels & pumps, and GPCRs,
  • Lipidomic studies have been demonstrated,
  • Native nanodiscs have proven excellent thermal stability, can be freeze-dried, stored and dispersed in water again without the loss of native function.
  • Compatible with most membrane & lipids, making the study of protein-lipid interactions possible.
  • Solubilization can be performed at a range of temperatures and conditions, not necessarily 4°C only.


MA copolymers for membrane protein isolation are available under the trade name SMALP® supplied by PolyScience®. Currently the following grades are available:

SMALP® 40005P
SMALP® 30010P
SMALP® 25010P

These are all aqueous and ready-to-use polymer solutions. Simply add SMALP® to your membrane suspension and purify your target membrane protein using widely used downstream techniques including, SEC, HPLC and Affinity-tag chromatography (including His, FLAG, Strep-tag, etc). SMALP® is compatible with many functional & ligand screening assays and biophysical methods, including, Crystallography, EM, DLS, CD, NMR, ESR, SPR, Mass Spectrometry, etc.


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