A team of Australian chemists at University Of California (UCI) have figured out how to unboil egg whites which could ultimately reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the 160 billion dollars global biotechnology industry. Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry, said, "We have invented a way to unboil a hen egg and in our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order."
Weiss and his colleagues added a urea substance that chews away at the egg whites, liquefying the solid material to re-create a clear protein known as lysozyme once an egg has been boiled and then employ a vortex fluid device, a high-powered machine designed by Professor Colin Raston's laboratory at South Australia's Flinders University. Shear stress within thin, microfluidic films is then applied to those tiny pieces, forcing them back into untangled, proper form.
The study has been published in the journal ChemBioChem.