Protein Research – Unfolding The Mystery

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Using yeast cells, Associate Professor Davis Ng (right) and team have discovered an important mechanism in protein folding

The basic building blocks of the human body, proteins are folded within the human cells during their production. Unfolded proteins can cause many diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and cystic fibrosis.

The lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind protein folding has been a roadblock in developing therapeutic methods. However, scientists at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory have made a groundbreaking discovery that could pave the way for future research in this area.

Led by Associate Professor Davis Ng, the team has discovered the cell mechanism which disables folding and removes the unfolded proteins, which can become toxic when accumulated, from the body. While this phenomenon has been suggested in previous research, Associate Professor Ng’s team is the first to discover how the mechanism actually works. Their findings have since been published in the scientific journal Science.

“It was an interesting problem for us because protein folding is one of the most fundamental processes of life, so understanding it has important medical implications,” said Associate Professor Ng. “Conformational protein diseases affect tens of millions worldwide every year. We hope that this research can contribute to effective therapeutic interventions.”