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Scientists develop way to 'unboil' an egg

Unboil an egg

(NaturalNews) Don't look for a kitchen product that will recover hard boiled eggs and allow you to change your mind to make an omelet or fry eggs sunny-side up instead. The boys in the lab just had to dramatically demonstrate their newly created device that untangles proteins in boiled egg whites that reduces it to a liquid with proteins intact.

So it's impractical for kitchen use. Besides, it didn't deal with the yokes, only the whites. Before attempting to explain why they're doing this, let's discuss the demonstration. "Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg," said Gregory Weiss, University of California Irvine (UCI) professor of chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry.

Weiss explains, "In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order. It's not so much that we're interested in processing the eggs; that's just demonstrating how powerful this process is."

The demonstration began by applying an artificially produced urea substance, also known as carbamide, which replicates the urea that creates ammonia waste eliminated in urine by the body's metabolism of breaking down of proteins. Carbamide is used to enhance protein in animal feed and as fertilizer.

The urea or carbamide is applied to the boiled egg white and begins rapidly liquifying the solid material. That's the first half of the process; at the molecular level, protein bits are still balled up into unusable masses, and to complete the process of restoring a clear protein known as lysozyme, a vortex fluid device is employed to restore the useless balled up or "folded" proteins to normal usable proteins.

Professor Colin Raston's laboratory at South Australia's Flinders University developed this high powered vortex device that causes shear stress to those tiny pieces with thin microfluidic films. This forces the tangled proteins back into normalcy.

Well - what's the point of all this?

For immediate practical laboratory purposes, Weiss half-jokingly claimed, "The real problem is there are lots of cases of gummy proteins that you spend way too much time scraping off your test tubes, and you want some means of recovering that material."

And this newly developed process speeds up a process that could take days and instead does it in minutes. A process equivalent to dialysis on the molecular level takes four days while this process is completed in minutes. Aside from cleaning test tubes and other lab equipment for recovering useful proteins, this method has more practical applications for efficiently speeding up industrial and research protein production.

Pharmaceutical companies currently create cancer antibodies in expensive hamster ovary cells that take time to develop and do not often unfold the proteins, rendering those useless. This new method could easily replace that process and save time and money to create the proteins needed for cancer research, for example.

The ability to quickly and cheaply re-form common proteins from yeast or E. coli bacteria could potentially streamline protein manufacturing for other uses in the food industry. Industrial cheese makers, farmers and others who use recombinant proteins could also achieve more bang for their buck.

The researchers' joint USA and Australian effort consider this a breakthrough after a long struggle to efficiently produce or recycle valuable molecular proteins with a wide range of applications. Too often they "misfold" into structurally incorrect shapes when they are formed, rendering them structurally useless.

But one does wonder if all the application examples mentioned contribute to healing cancer with natural substances or creating foods naturally. It seems to go the way of biotechnology and orthodox oncology research. Though scientifically entertaining and fulfilling for researchers, is it really good for us?

Of course UCI has filed for a patent on the work, and its Office of Technology Alliances is working with interested commercial partners.






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