For the first time ever, biomedical researchers have engineered biometric structures. These are made using a mysterious class of proteins that do not have any internal structure.
These interesting proteins appear like small dots inside cells. They form fluid, gel-like particles or assemblies that have no identifiable internal structure. This “intrinsically disordered” structure is like a spaghetti clump, which is completely random yet stays together.
These proteins are instrumental to cellular function. They bring molecules together in particular locations and control the location of reactions. But their disordered nature posed challenged in engineering them in lab.
They finally accomplished this via a process like that of oil and water droplets formation in salad dressing. A paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry discusses this.
The oil droplet here is a concentrated drop of protein solution. Its size and formation can be triggered by environmental stimuli. This permits the creation of droplets that coat one another in concentric layers like the assembling of an onion. The researchers can genetically program the timing of different stages of ‘onion formation’.
This advancement is expected to pave way for new biomedical applications like regenerative medicine and drug delivery.