When a protein folds correctly, it spurs a biological process in a cell -- one of many that enable the human body to live. Our bodies have about 100,000 distinct proteins, built from strings of amino acids, and each protein has a job to do.
Traces of protein changes that have occurred over millions of years of evolution have allowed scientists to quickly decipher the 3-D shape of hundreds of proteins. Previously, these structures had remained a long-standing puzzle.
Scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design have shown it is possible to create small, hyperstable peptides that could provide the basis for developing powerful new drugs and diagnostic tests.
A small protein molecule, engineered through computer design, protects against diverse strains of influenza in mice. Its preventive and therapeutic power does not depend on the animals’ own immune response to viral infection.