Play video games…and cure cancer?

A folded (but not by me) Foldit protein

“Whoa, what is that?” says my coworker, Dan, looking at the brightly colored, squiggly structure on my computer screen I’m flipping and tugging at with clicks of my mouse.

“It’s a protein. I’m playing Foldit,” I reply, clicking and dragging on a blue sidechain to eliminate the red spiky “clash” ball between it and another sidechain and watching my score jump. I explain how it’s a video game where the time you spend playing can actually help advance scientific discovery.

“That’s so cool. Can you send me the link?” he says. And, within five minutes, another Foldit download completes and another layperson researcher has logged in, ready to contribute to cures for cancer or Alzheimer’s or HIV just by playing a video game. Continue reading

Alternative Applications for Cell-Free Expression

proteinexpressionTwo of the most frequent applications that use cell-free expression are the characterization of protein:protein interactions and the characterization of protein:nucleic acid interactions. Due to the convenience of expressing functional protein in few hours, cell-free expression is also a viable alternative to cell-based expression for other applications. Recent examples include: Continue reading