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Stop everything: Scientists can now UNBOIL an egg

The results may have implications for cancer treatments.
Jan 27th 2015, 12:02 PM 22,520 28

SCIENTISTS HAVE MANAGED to unboil an egg and it could lead to cheaper treatments for cancer patients.

The study by the University of California Irvine was backed by the US and Australian governments.

So how is unboiling an egg useful?

Proteins need to be folded for the treatment of diseases such as cancer. However, a lot of the time when scientists attempt to fold proteins – they come out as “scrambled messes”.

The lead research author and professor of chemistry, Gregory Weiss, explained, “They get tangled up with each other and it’s a complete mess. That process is called ‘aggregation,’ and that’s what happens when you boil and egg.

This drives us nuts, as scientists, because it’s really hard to disentangle them later. Often times we have this protein that we want to study and it comes out and they’re just goo.

To solve this, a way to pull the tangled proteins apart and give them a chance to refold was invented.

Step forward – the egg!

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How is it done?

Weiss explained that by adding a urea substance to break down the cooked egg and applying a high-powered machine called a vortex fluid device – the proteins were forced apart into their untangled, reusable form.

And so the unboiled egg was born- however Weiss was quick to point out that the unboiled egg wasn’t the important part of the process:

It’s not so much that we’re interested in processing the eggs; that’s just demonstrating how powerful this process is.

The team’s research was published last week in the journal ChemBioChem.

Read: Ever wondered why Europeans don’t refrigerate eggs, but Americans do?>

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Cliodhna Russell


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