Scientists Crack the Code to Protein Self-Assembly
New findings out of Duke University will allow medical researchers to act like computer programmers except with genetic code rather than digital.
If news stories pertaining to pharmaceutical drugs have got you down, here's something to perk you up: Duke University scientists have successfully hacked the genetic code controlling how and when proteins self-assemble and disassemble. It's a huge step forward for designer proteins, synthetic biology, and a whole host of other future-minded pieces of medical research. Perhaps most importantly, these findings may result in new and effective ways to deliver drugs to vital areas within the body.
It's now possible for medical researchers to emulate computer programmers in construction, manipulation, and execution of code — except in this case, we're talking genetic coding rather than digital.
The researchers' study, which appears in this month's Nature, details the many possible environmental stimuli that result in protein assembly and disassembly, and then demonstrates that the researchers have learned to replicate them in a lab. For example, the researchers have pinned down the complex relationship between protein structures and heat.
If you wrap medicine in a protein shell and heat it just right, you can control when and where in the body that shell will give way and the medicine will be delivered. The shell become more than just a shell; it becomes a "bioactive component" of the drug, according to Ashutosh Chilkoti, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke.
In what other ways can we expect human health research to take big steps forward? Dr. Francois Nader on what the amazing things the future brings:
It's now possible for medical researchers to emulate computer programmers in construction, manipulation, and execution of code — except in this case, we're talking genetic coding rather than digital. Input the correct specs, flip a switch, and the proteins assemble or disassemble themselves. This degree of control is unprecedented and should lead to a host of new discoveries and innovations in the years to come.
Robert Montenegro is a writer, playwright, and dramaturg who lives in Washington DC. His beats include the following: tech, history, sports, geography, culture, and whatever Elon Musk has said on Twitter over the past couple days. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.You can follow him on Twitter at @Monteneggroll and visit his po'dunk website at robertmontenegro.com.
Read more at Science Daily.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
- Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.
- The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
- The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
- Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.
- A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
- This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
- The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.