Why Synthetic Protein Research Needs More Funding

From David Baker on Nautilus:

Even more remarkably, nature seems to have made use of only a tiny fraction of the potential protein structures available—and there are many. Therein lies an amazing set of opportunities to design novel proteins with unique structures: synthetic proteins that do not occur in nature, but are made from the same set of naturally-occurring amino acids. These synthetic proteins can be “manufactured” by harnessing the genetic machinery of living things, such as in bacteria given appropriate DNA that specify the desired amino acid sequence. The ability to create and explore such synthetic proteins with atomic level accuracy—which we have demonstrated—has the potential to unlock new areas of basic research and to create practical applications in a wide range of fields.

Alternatively: maybe nature only uses a fraction of the possible proteins for a reason — it has selected for the ones that work. Regardless, I believe research in fundamental biology is always a good idea.

Take protein logic systems, for example. The brain is a very energy-efficient logic system based entirely on proteins. Might it be possible to build a logic system—a computer—from synthetic proteins that would self-assemble and be both cheaper and more efficient than silicon logic systems? Naturally occurring protein switches are well studied, but building synthetic switches remains an unsolved challenge. Quite apart from bio-technology applications, understanding protein logic systems may have more fundamental results, such as clarifying how our brains make decisions or initiate processes.

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DeLanda Destratified

De Landa Destratified on Techgnosis. Some quotes I like: I don’t believe there is such a thing as postmodernism. It’s exhausted. We truly need a complete new thing, and [Deleuze and Guattari’s] A Thousand Plateaus is the direction. Those guys are fifty or sixty years ahead of everyone else. You read it at first and… Continue reading DeLanda Destratified

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How much the culture of learning has changed

The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books. Fifteen years ago, cable channels like TLC (the “L” stood for Learning), Bravo and the History Channel (the “History” stood for History) promised to add texture and information… Continue reading How much the culture of learning has changed

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