Saturday, November 24, 2012

A New Milestone in Nanotechnology

From the Foresight Institute (h/t Instapundit):

From KurzweilAI “How to design proteins from scratch“:
… By following a set of rules, they designed five proteins from scratch that fold reliably into predicted conformations. In a blind test, the team showed that the synthesized proteins closely match the predicted structures.
“What you have now is a flexible set of building blocks for nanoscale assembly,” says Jeremy England, a molecular biophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who was not involved in the work. …

. . . The best summary of the significance of this result is given by the authors in the conclusion of their paper (reference numbers omitted from quotation):
The design principles and methodology we have described should allow the ready design of a wide range of robust and stable protein building blocks for the next generation of engineered functional proteins. Almost all protein design and engineering efforts so far have repurposed naturally occurring proteins that evolved for some other, often unrelated, function. It should now become possible to custom-design protein scaffolds ideal for the desired function, and to build larger assemblies and materials from robust ideal building blocks.
From the standpoint of advanced nanotechnology/molecular manufacturing, the “build larger assemblies” part is especially interesting. The abstract of the research is available on the journal web site, and the authors have made a full text PDF available on the Baker lab web site.

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