Hey 42 here this article is sponsored by Squarespace Squarespace is to you all in one platform, to build a beautiful online presence and run your business eggs, meat, cheese, broccoli. All these foods contain a healthy dose of protein.
You probably have a rough idea of what proteins are and that they have something to do with repairing muscle. But what is a protein? Exactly a protein is a string of amino acids bound together by a covalent chemical bond, called a peptide bond.
But what makes proteins so incredibly useful is their unimaginable complexity. Proteins are like tiny machines that live in your body and they can form an infinite number of shapes. The vast array of shaped proteins can form makes these tiny machines, Jack’s of all trade, for example, proteins move your body, structural proteins such as Kinison, Dinan and myosin, can contract and relax to exert kinetic forces and when millions of proteins do this Together, your muscles move, one of the most common forms that proteins become or fold into in your body is enzymes.
Enzymes are no more than special proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in your body. You have lots of different kinds of enzymes. Some digest your food offers turn starch into sugars. Each enzyme is highly specialized and can only do one specific job that it has been constructed for proteins can also replicate your DNA and repair damaged.
Dna proteins form a number of different DNA replication enzymes that each serve a specialized function, for example, helicase enzymes unwind your DNA ready for replication, whereas polymerase enzymes are specifically responsible for proofreading the replicated DNA and correcting any errors like repairing corrupted bites on a computer’s hard drive, there are many of us that each perform their own specialized yet highly complex.
To make more of you based on your unique DNA template, and they also repair bits of you when you break according to that very same template, but for all the good that proteins do, they can also kill you Botox is a protein.
It works by blocking nerve signals from reaching your facial muscles at the injection sites, and so without any incoming instructions. The muscles simply go dead and relax, which smoothes out wrinkles, but Botox also happens to be the most lethal toxin known to man when use incorrectly or by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
It can kill easily. In fact, one gram of Botox is enough to kill 8.3 million people. That means it would take just 50 grams to kill every person on the planet, but what if we could design new proteins that could be introduced to our bodies to perform specific tasks? Perhaps life-saving tasks in nature, proteins begin life, our strands of amino acids and they fold themselves into complex shapes only once folded into a very specific shape.
Can they perform the tasks that they are intended for exactly how a string of amino acids will fold is determined by the sequence in which the amino acids are initially joined together? Theoretically, if scientists could create sequences that fold to form stable proteins that could let’s, say target and destroy cancer cells in the human body.
This would, of course, be an immense breakthrough and that’s exactly what some companies and universities have been attempting to do for the past few decades. The issue is that there are unlimited combinations of sequences and those folded protein designs and finding out how existing proteins are formed, never mind how to design custom proteins from scratch is unbelievably difficult.
The way that researchers have been tackling this monolith of a so fall is, with brute force, by using computers to simulate endless combinations of protein folds. They can slowly build a picture of how specific amino acid sequences and therefore specific folds create different protein structures and what jobs they will ultimately perform in the body you may have heard of folding at home.
It started in 2000 at Stanford University with the ambitious goal to create one of the world’s largest distributed supercomputers to simulate protein folds 24 hours a day on millions of computers around the world and Sunday use all this data to find miraculous.
New cures for cancer Alzheimer’s and others by figuring out how proteins miss fold sometimes protein folding goes around proteins can fold incorrectly, which causes diseases such as Alzheimer’s, but if science can figure out why some proteins fold incorrectly, they Could potentially prevent it from happening in the first place? If a protein does miss fold, it’s, usually due simply to the law of large numbers.
If you crack enough eggs, eventually, you’re, going to get some shell in the omelets folding at home uses an individual’s, personal computers to create a worldwide distributed supercomputer to simulate every single way.
An egg can crack ie every way. A protein can fault, and over ten plus years, the program has been successful in helping to research a number of life-saving drugs. But what if humanity could take the science of protein folding one step further and actually design new proteins to accomplish highly specific tasks such as killing cancer cells? More powerful computer processes in recent years has enabled researchers to experiment, with the possibility of doing exact that one of the most elusive prizes in all of medicine is cracking.
The flu virus influenza comes in thousands of different strains and each flu season it mutates into a whole bunch of entirely new versions of the flu virus that have never been seen before. This means it cannot be vaccinated against because a vaccine has to be designed for one particular strain.
You can get the flu jab each year, but that only protects against the most popular predicted strains for that particular season by the following year. That vaccine will have become obsolete. Scientists have been scratching their heads for decades trying to find the holy grail of medicine, a universal flu vaccine, which could be inoculated only once in a patient and would protect against all possible future flu viruses with the help of protein design.
This enigma may be closer than ever before to becoming reality. The University of Washington’s Institute for protein design has recently been awarded an eleven million dollar grant to develop a universal flu vaccine.
Unlike handing your immune system, specific instructions on how to deal with each and every flu virus currently out there like current vaccines, do the Washington team are taking a fresh approach? They believe that custom proteins can be designed from scratch using computer software called rosetta, which is like AutoCAD for proteins.
These custom proteins will be constructed from nanoparticles and once inoculated, in a patient system, they will attach themselves onto specific cells and antibodies and act like an add-on or expansion pack for your immune system.
The custom proteins will help your antibodies to attach to and destroy a wide range of common antigens that are found in the vast majority of different influenza strains. Think of these designer proteins as converting your immune system to a highly targeted killing machine to a capsule defense system based on current designs.
These synthetic proteins will need to be readmitted every five years to maintain effectiveness, but if their work proves successful, Washington believe a similar method could be used to develop designer protein vaccines for all types of infectious viruses such as Ebola and HIV.
The Washington team say there are literally thousands of possible applications for synthetic designer proteins. In theory, they could be engineered to perform any task inside the body from fighting viruses to enhancing everyday bodily functions.
One popular idea protein designers have put forward as a potential use of the technology in the very near future is to relieve celiac disease because of a rogue chain of amino acids. In some people they are unable to break down gluten.
The idea would be to design proteins that act like gluten destroying enzymes. They would sit in a patient’s body awaiting the arrival of gluten and as soon as the proteins meet it, they would chop it up and essentially digest it doing.
The job done, the patient’s. Body is meant to button celiac sufferers is unable to do so. The proteins would digest the gluten before it ever reaches the intestines, where it usually begins to wreak havoc on the sufferers body.
But what, if designer proteins? Could be used to take out cancer cells like tiny synthetic terminators, that’s exactly what a team at Stanford University School of Medicine are currently working on. The persistent issue with all current cancer treatments from radiotherapy to chemotherapy is that they don’t only target and kill cancer cells.
They also destroy healthy and important cells. During the process, the extermination of healthy cells causes some truly awful side-effects for those undergoing the treatment. However, Stanford University are working on a project called razor short for rewiring of aberrant signals to effective, which aims to create synthetic proteins.
Now, once inside the body could identify cancerous cells and stop them from causing further harm, whilst leaving all healthy cells intact. The proteins will be able to differentiate a cancer cell from a normal cell, because cancer cells possess an always-on growth signal, which is why they continue to divide and grow to form.
Tumors long after a normal cell would have ceased. These proteins would be able to target individual cancer cells with remarkable precision once found. The proteins could latch onto the cancer cells and rewire it, which would effectively redirect their incessant grow signals towards a more useful and healthy cause, such as healing injuries and repairing damaged tissue.
Instead of a nefarious tumor growth design, any proteins could also be used to diagnose and check if a drug is working effectively using Rosetta scientists have been able to design synthetic proteins that can bind to specific molecules in the human body and when the protein successfully binds It fluoresces ie it lights up, as can be seen in this real-life microscope footage.
The applications of this technology are plentiful. Doctors could customize these proteins to attach to cells and light up if they detect the presence of certain chemicals inside that cell. Those chemicals could be drugs useful for checking if doctor administered medication is actually reaching the intended cells.
Alternatively, they could identify the presence of negative chemicals in cells such as the various carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene, beryllium, asbestos and arsenic, which could cause tumor growth or indicate the presence of an existing tumor.
This diagnosis ability will go far beyond any techniques that doctors currently possess and will be far more accurate by using designer proteins cancer and other ailments could be predicted in patients years before the actual onset of the disease.
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