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Biotech Science

Proteins Made To Order 51

ananyo writes "Proteins are an enormous molecular achievement: chains of amino acids that fold spontaneously into a precise conformation, time after time, optimized by evolution for their particular function. Yet given the exponential number of contortions possible for any chain of amino acids, dictating a sequence that will fold into a predictable structure has been a daunting task. Now researchers report that they can do just that. By following a set of rules described in a paper published in Nature (abstract), a husband and wife team from David Baker's laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle has designed five proteins from scratch that fold reliably into predicted conformations. The work could eventually allow scientists to custom design proteins with specific functions."
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Proteins Made To Order

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  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @05:21AM (#41930065) Homepage

    Because, unless your're His Noodliness, you have to start out small. We can make DNA of reasonable length but we don't know how to create a sequence that will cause a protein to fold in a specific pattern to it will have a specific function and not act like a disorganized blob of glop.

    You want to be the whole spaghetti, not just the stuff tossed out in the sink.

  • Re:hello -- (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:51AM (#41930353)

    If this happens this could open up a new era in medicine.
    It is literally *the* cure for hiv , cancer and just about everything else. Specific proteins can be created to attach to and kill exactly just about anything , it's the perfect artificial immune system.
    The gloomy side of this is that it will also open up the door for new weapons. One could theoretically build proteins designed to kill exactly one individual potentially without leaving much of a trace to the untrained eye.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @07:30AM (#41930497)

    I've always said that protein engineering will become more important to humanity than the transistor, For just one example of the incredible potential proteins have, look at enzymes. These are biological catalysts that tirelessly perform very specific chemical reactions. In the case of some enzymes, they are called 'kinetically perfect', meaning that they are so fast the only way we have of explaining the reaction speed is that every time the molecule they work on collides with the enzyme, the reaction immediately happens. Mind-blowingly, some enzymes are even faster than this, so-called 'better than kinetically perfect' and how they manage their astounding speed is one of biology's great unsolved problems.

    Some other cool example of proteins: Proton pumps in your stomach, which carry individual protons into your stomach to make acid. Photosystems 1 and 2 in plant chloroplasts, which juggle electrons between each other and weave sunlight into sugar, forming the basis of the whole earth's food chain.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.