You can’t unscramble an egg but you can unboil one.
Who knew “unboiling” an egg would generate so much interest?
Scientists have figured out a way to do something that seems impossible: unboiling an egg. Strange as it may sound, the discovery could lead to cost reductions in cancer treatments, food production advancements and some other areas of research .
Chemistry professor Gregory Weiss and student Stephan Kudlacek from UC Irvine, have worked out how to return boiled egg white proteins back to their original form using a novel process which takes only a few minutes.
On the other hand, the act of unboiling an egg that spent 20 minutes in hot water is actually just a fun way to show off just how powerful this new process can be. The process, developed by these chemists, can turn a hard boiled egg white back into liquid form. And while that might seem like just a cool trick, it’s really a fun way to show the incredible revolutionary process the chemists have developed that can ‘untangle’ protein molecules.
On a more practical side, it means that scientists can use and recycle molecular proteins that have a tendency to “misfold” into tiny shapes and structures when produced that actually make them unusable. In laymen’s terms, the proteins scientists produce in a lab often end up like the spongy white material in a hard-boiled egg, when researchers actually need it to be more of a liquid like in a raw egg.
The new process certainly sounds complicated:
To re-create a clear protein known as lysozyme once an egg has been boiled, he and his colleagues add a urea substance that chews away at the whites, liquefying the solid material. That’s half the process; at the molecular level, protein bits are still balled up into unusable masses. The scientists then employ a vortex fluid device, a high-powered machine designed by Professor Colin Raston’s laboratory at South Australia’s Flinders University. Shear stress within thin, microfluidic films is applied to those tiny pieces, forcing them back into untangled, proper form.
Surprisingly, it has the potential to cut costs associated with the production of therapeutic antibodies which are often produced in costly hamster ovary cells, because proteins don’t tend to misfold in that particular environment.
via Fox News