The struggle to find a cure for cancer could have received a huge boost from the most unlikely of sources, the boiled egg.
As Liz Neporent of ABCNews.com reports, scientists have found a way to un-boil hard-boiled eggs which could lead to advances in the fight against cancer. The common factor between cancer research and boiled eggs is that they use and contain proteins respectively.
Unboiled eggs: Researchers spin dissolved egg whites
As lead researcher Gregory Weiss explains, the proteins which egg whites consist off have a certain shape which changes when you boil them. “Once you boil them, the proteins stay intact but they change their conformation,” he said.
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Weiss is a professor of chemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Irvine, and his team have disproven the long-held belief that boiling an egg was an irreversible. Now they can recover and reuse the proteins by reversing the process.
The team first managed to separate the whites from the yolks before soaking them in a chemical called urea, which dissolves them. The whites were then spun at high speed in a machine called a “vortex fluid machine,” a process which returns them to their original state in a matter of minutes.
Vast improvement in reliability
The speed of the process will aid those who work with similar proteins in cancer research. Proteins are useful in the field but until now scientists have struggled to consistently make them unfold into the right format, with the majority of them turning out useless. Weiss and his team have discovered a simple way of returning them to their original forms which doesn’t take a prohibitively long time.
“We are already using it in our cancer research here,” Weiss said, and he hopes that the method will be used more widely in the near future.
Weiss also moved to head off any expectations of uncooking other foodstuffs, claiming that although it is theoretically possible, the team have not even tried to unboil a yolk. It should also be possible to reverse cook a chicken, but the result would be thoroughly unappetising.