London, Jan 27
Researchers have managed to unboil an ordinary boiled egg, and the results may have implications for cancer treatments, biotechnology and a broad range of food production processes, a British daily reported Tuesday.
"Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg," The Independent quoted Gregory Weiss, the lead author of the study supported by the US and Australian governments, as saying.
A hard-boiled egg white represents proteins that have been cooked, tangled up and -- so it was thought -- irreversibly changed.
But the scientists were able to force the proteins apart into their untangled and reusable form. They added a urea substance to break down the cooked egg and then applied a high-powered machine called a "vortex fluid device" to achieve the result, the daily said.
"It's not so much that we're interested in processing the eggs; that's just demonstrating how powerful this process is," Weiss said.
"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."
Having an effective and quick method for reusing wasted proteins could revolutionise a vast range of scientific and manufacturing processes. For instance, cancer antibody creation is done using expensive hamster ovary cells as they rarely waste proteins. Thus, using the new process could make cancer research and treatments cheaper.
The study was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in the US and the Australian Research Council, and published last week in the journal ChemBioChem.
London, Jan 27