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Mind un-boiling a boiled egg?

Nahid Hossain
Mind un-boiling a boiled egg?

All of us have surely boiled eggs or have seen boiling eggs. But how many of us have ever imagined un-boiling a boiled egg? 

Scientists have now discovered a process by which boiled hen eggs can be un-boiled. A group of researchers from University of California Irvine and Australian Chemists have invented a process through which the proteins in a boiled hen egg are de-tangled to restore it back to its original liquefied form. But why would anybody even think about un-boiling eggs? 

This innovation can potentially reduce cost for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry. Currently, the pharmaceutical companies create cancer antibodies in expensive hamster ovary cells. The ability to quickly and cheaply re-form common proteins from yeast or E. coli bacteria could potentially streamline protein manufacturing and make cancer treatments more affordable.

The researchers and chemists at UC Irvine, in their research devised a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and getting them to refold whereby allowing them to harden an egg by boiling it for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and then restoring it back to the original liquefied form. To recreate this clear protein - Iysozyme, urea is added to the cooked egg whites, which chemically breaks down the protein by untangling the knotted proteins. Once this is finished, the resulting solution is poured into a “Vortex Fluid Device”, which pieces the egg whites broken protein in untangled form within just five minutes.

The researchers hope to see this invention successful in many ways, including the production of cancer drugs, which rely on the creation of specific proteins for their formulation. University of California Irvine has filed for a patent on this invention, and is working with interested commercial partners to bring the technology into the market on commercial basis.

September 21, 2015
About Author

The writer is a legal associate and IP practitioner at Old Bailey Chambers.


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