MSU Protein Research Yields New Structure to Combat Flu Epidemics
Protein research at Michigan State University has lead to the development of a new protein structure which could neutralize flu viruses during an epidemic. The team of international researchers working on the project were lead by Tim Whitehead, assistant professor of materials science and chemical engineering at MSU (image courtesy of MSU).
The researchers developed a novel approach which uses manufactured genes as antiviral mechanisms to disrupt key functions of several of the most dangerous flu viruses. Whitehead said that their best protein design has been effective at attacking H5N1 (Avian flu) and H1N1 (Swine flu, Spanish flu) subtypes.
(Image of H1N1 Virus)
In order to develop these new proteins, Whitehead and his team used computer design to create proteins which target the viruses vulnerable areas. They then mapped all the mutations that caused the protein to have an advantage when attacking the virus. They also optimized the performance of their proteins using a technique called “DNA deep sequencing” to sequence millions of versions of their proteins simultaneously and come up with the best composite structure.
This MSU protein research has the potential to significantly advance protein development techniques. Whitehead summed up the project saying, “Our work demonstrates a new approach to construct therapeutic proteins, which we hope will spur development of new protein drugs by the biopharmaceutical industry.”
• Together with the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University, Michigan State University is part of The Research Corridor. This partnership was designed to facilitate research collaborations in Michigan.
• Michigan State University received $1.05 Billion in endowments for the 2010 FY.
• In 2012, Michigan State University will open the doors to a $43 Million collaborative research facility. The Plant Biology Laboratories and Soil Sciences Building will house researchers attempting to help the quality of food that humans produce.
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