ArticlesBlog

3D Proteins, the Big Picture – Science Nation

3D Proteins, the Big Picture – Science Nation


MILES O’BRIEN: What’s the best way to get
to know a protein? JAMES HINTON: From a teaching standpoint
it’s really, really important that students be able to touch, feel, see, embrace
if you like, these proteins. MILES O’BRIEN: Proteins are the work horses
of cells. With support from the National Science Foundation, University of Arkansas Biochemist
James Hinton researches their structure and function. About five years ago, Hinton focused on
creating a dramatically better way of displaying the inner workings of proteins. JAMES HINTON: Kids are visual people nowadays
and so I begin to look around for ways of actually visualizing three dimensional structures. MILES O’BRIEN: Hinton worked with the
visualization company Virtalis to use virtual reality to show how proteins function;
interacting with everything from DNA to a flu virus. With 3D glasses and a huge screen, students and
professors can interact with proteins. JAMES HINTON: One of the things that
pharmaceutical companies are vitally interested in these days is, how do you take a protein that
causes a disease, causes a problem, and devise ways of deactivating the protein. MILES O’BRIEN: Pharmaceutical companies must
go beyond just creating drugs. They must also be able to update them
as the pathogens they are designed to treat, mutate, and evolve. JAMES HINTON: You trick them for a while and
then they modify themselves so that the old drug no longer works. To be able to see the binding
side before you go into the laboratory and begin the make modifications in your drug or drugs
is a very, very important thing. MILES O’BRIEN: The tool is now in wide use
internationally. Paul Adams uses it for cancer research. PAUL ADAMS: Using emergent technology and,
boy, let me tell you it really brings the point home in three dimensions as opposed to again using
just a regular computer. MILES O’BRIEN: Hinton says virtual reality is
a great way to entice young scientists. JAMES HINTON: Seeing them have fun is a great
joy because you feel maybe one out of these hundred or so kids will say, well, bio chemistry or, hmm,
chemistry? Maybe I’d like that. MILES O’BRIEN: Hinton has certainly done his part.
Helping scientists understand the complicated world of proteins by reaching out to touch one. For Science Nation, I’m Miles O’BRIEN.

Comments (1)

Comment here