The Importance of Protein Folding
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Here is a glance at why protein folding is important: "Research indicates that ALS, in common with other neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, is caused by our own proteins, which form aberrant aggregates that are fatally toxic to our nerve cells. However, it has not been known what causes these proteins to aggregate. [Researchers] have now revealed what happens with proteins during the very first, critical step towards forming larger aggregates.
It turns out that the protein superoxide dismutase interchanges between its normal structure and a misfolded form. During a brief moment the structure becomes partially misfolded to expose sticky patches that normally are hidden in the interior. These patches cause two or several protein molecules to stick together, thereby forming the cornerstone of the larger structures that are believed to underlie ALS. ... Knowledge of the misfolded protein structure potentially makes possible future efforts to rationally design drugs that prevent the misfolding event and hence the development of ALS." This is why projects like Folding@home are important to the future of medical science: understanding a misfold makes it possible to work towards correcting it.

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013105324.htm

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