A team of researchers from the University of California, under the direct instruction of Gregory Weiss, professor of chemistry and molecular biology, has successfully un-boiled an egg in order to recover precious proteins found in the egg whites.
The reason why the solving the miracle of un-boiling an egg is worth it, is for the sake of cancer research. Instead of using expensive production technologies for avoiding misfolded protein, the team discovered a refolding method, which proved to be little time-consuming.
The struggle in the industry of protein manufacturing is the inefficiency of the current methods for recovering valuable proteins through recycling. A proper solution would translate in enormous decline in cancer treatments charges, food production and other important domains of the world-wide biotechnology industry. The team from the University of California, in collaboration with South Australia’s Flinders University predicts that such an effective technique might soon be available.
So far, the scientists reported to have successfully un-boiled an egg white, demonstrating that the new process of refolding the proteins works a lot faster than the conventional technique, using a special kind of molecular dialysis. If you were to go about the old way, you would need to let the process develop overnight, sometimes taking as long as four days. In contrast, Dr. Weiss shows how the new method requires only minutes before completion, accelerating the process by a factor of thousands.
Dr. Weiss explained the experiment in an article written for the ChemBioChem magazine. The main purpose is to retrieve the lysozyme (a clear protein) from the boiled egg, and the first phase is adding a urea substance which causes the solid material (in this case, the whites) to return to a liquid state. But this only brings us halfway there, because the molecular level still presents unusable masses of tangled protein bits.
For the second phase of the refolding process, a high-powered vortex fluid device applies sheer stress to the tiny bits of protein, and the pressure forces them to return to their untangled form.
Dr. Weiss specified that the unboiling of an egg is just a demonstration of what can be done on a larger scale, helping and improving the process of recovering material when working with gummy proteins. The main purpose of the quick refolding method is to make a difference in the protein department, lowering costs and shortening the processing times.
Image Source: Serious Eats