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VIDEO—Unboiling the Mystery: UC Irvine Researchers Discuss New Discovery of Unboiling Eggs

Feb 03, 2015 03:31 PM EST

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While articles this week have pointed to the potential implications of UC Irvine's newest research, be it in the pharmaceutical or the food industry in spite of its current limitations, now lead author Gregory Weiss is stepping up and answering the question of: Why would we want to unboil an egg?

To the average reader, this may seem like a silly question, but it's not because we're looking to make omelettes or a quiche. Instead the researchers have spent years of study to figure out the puzzle of unboiling an egg's proteins to more efficiently and cost effectively develop pharmaceuticals and antibodies developed in the average egg.

Publishing their study this week in the journal ChemBioChem, the researchers innovated a way of unboiling egg whites, an innovation that promises to drastically reduce costs for the development of cancer treatments while also offering aide in other sectors of the $160 billion biotechnology industry.

"Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg," lead author of the study and UC Irvine professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry, Gregory Weiss says. "In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order."

While the process only proved effective in recycling the protein of egg whites, the researchers believe that the effective process may have implications far reaching in the industry. Being able to recycle valuable molecular proteins, that are important in the process of developing vaccinations and cancer antibodies, the method Weiss and his colleagues have developed not only promises to save lots of time, but an unbelievable amount of money as well.

"It's not so much that we're interested in processing the eggs; that's just demonstrating how powerful this process is," Weiss says. "The real problem is there are lots of cases of gummy proteins that you spend way too much time scraping off your test tubes, and you want some means of recovering that material."

"The new process [only] takes minutes. It speeds things up by a factor of thousands."

Want to hear exactly why the researchers started their work or what challenges faced them in the process? Click the link below to learn what Professor Weiss has to say about the new study, and watch the researchers unboil an egg for yourself.

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