'Limitless potential' of artificial protein ushers in new er
Medicine has a "Goldilocks" problem. Many therapies are safe and effective only when administered at just the right time and in very precise doses -- when given too early or too late, in too large or too small an amount, medicines can be ineffective or even harmful. But in many situations, doctors have no way of knowing when or how much to dispense.

Now, a team of bioengineers led by UC San Francisco's Hana El-Samad, PhD, and the University of Washington's David Baker, PhD, have devised a remarkable solution to this problem -- "smart" cells that behave like tiny autonomous robots which, in the future, may be used to detect damage and disease, and deliver help at just the right time and in just the right amount.

Amazingly, this can be accomplished without any direct human intervention. Thanks to a first-of-its-kind artificial protein -- designed on a computer and synthesized in the lab -- that can be used to build brand-new biological circuits inside living cells. These circuits transform ordinary cells into smart cells that are endowed with remarkable abilities. This new protein, formally known as the Latching Orthogonal Cage-Key pRotein, or LOCKR, is described as ‘unlike anything biologists -- or nature itself -- have ever devised’.

To that end, El-Samad and their collaborators are now building degronLOCKR-based smart cells that could treat a variety of diseases and ailments, including traumatic brain injury (TBI) -- a condition that exemplifies medicine's Goldilocks problem.

Read more: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190725110458.htm
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