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Synthetic genes can make weird new proteins that actually work

New Scientist

Novel proteins, created from scratch with no particular design in mind, can sometimes do the work of a natural protein. The discovery may widen the toolkit of synthetic biologists trying to build bespoke organisms. There are more proteins possible than there are atoms in the universe, and yet evolution has tested only a minuscule fraction of them. No one knows whether the vast, untried space of proteins includes some that could have biological uses. Until now, most researchers assembling novel proteins have meticulously selected each amino acid building block so that the resulting protein folds precisely into a pre-planned shape that closely fits the molecules it is intended to interact with.

Unique AI method for generating proteins to speed up drug development


"What we are now able to demonstrate offers fantastic potential for a number of future applications, such as faster and more cost-efficient development of protein-based drugs," says Aleksej Zelezniak, Associate Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers. Proteins are large, complex molecules that play a crucial role in all living cells, building, modifying, and breaking down other molecules naturally inside our cells. They are also widely used in industrial processes and products, and in our daily lives. Protein-based drugs are very common--the diabetes drug insulin is one of the most prescribed. Some of the most expensive and effective cancer medicines are also protein-based, as well as the antibody formulas currently being used to treat COVID-19.

Is Artificial Intelligence Changing The Rubrics Of Health Care? - AI Summary


The work published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence throws light on an innovative method by which synthetic proteins can be generated using artificial intelligence. The latest research that uses artificial intelligence to generate synthetic proteins, exhibits immense potential that can pave way for a very promising future characterized by efficiency, effectiveness and cost saving and faster drug development that ensures better health care. A large amount of data derived from well studies proteins is given to the AI, which then attempts to study the data and create new proteins. Another part of the AI, simultaneously ensures if or not the synthetic proteins are fake by continuously sending the proteins back and forth in the system until it reaches a point where the AI can no longer distinguish between natural and synthetic proteins. In the due course, researchers will work on different methods to improve the properties of the proteins endowing them with better stability and efficiency, which will be of great benefit to proteins that are used in industrial technology.

Controls for a synthetic RNA circuit


Gene therapy generally relies on delivering DNA into cells along with strategies to control its expression. Synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) is an attractive alternative gene therapy vehicle for applications that require transient protein expression, but controlling this expression remains challenging. One approach is to add a degradation domain to the protein, but this may compromise its proper function. Wagner et al. engineered small-molecule-responsive RNA binding proteins (RBPs) to control expression of proteins from synthetic mRNA. By regulating binding of the RBPs, they can regulate the timing and magnitude of expression of reporter proteins in engineered circuits that use either synthetic RNAs with base modifications (modRNA) designed to decrease immunogenicity or self-replicating RNAs (replicons) that give high levels of expression.

New technology can turn emissions into animal food, Chinese scientists say

The Japan Times

Chinese researchers say they have developed the technology to turn industrial emissions into animal feed at scale, a move that could cut the country's dependence on imported raw materials such as soybeans. The technology involves synthesizing industrial exhaust containing carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen into proteins using Clostridium autoethanogenum, a bacteria used to make ethanol. The news was reported this week in the state-run Science and Technology Daily. China is the top importer of soybeans, which are crushed to produce meal -- mainly to feed its pig herd, the largest globally. It buys huge volumes from countries including Brazil, Argentina and the U.S. The commodity has also been a major source of friction contributing to U.S.-China trade tensions.