FAHcon 2012 : Doctor Greg Bowman

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Doctor Greg Bowman of Berkeley University showed a project at Folding@Home conference (FAHcon) focused on new therapeutics applications of proteins. It is known that the interleukin 2 (IL-2) protein can help to stimulate an immune response, so in theory, this protein might be efficient to treat patients with immune deficiencies.

However in practice, prescribing IL-2 to these patients often leads to severe heart problems. To find a better solution, researchers at Stanford University designed a variant of IL-2 that can stimulate this immune response without any side effects. However, they were unable to understand how this mechanism worked because the two proteins had almost identical structures!

Using Folding@Home, Doctor Bowman’s team showed that IL-2 is a relatively floppy protein while the one designed at Stanford is locked in a structure that is poised to stimulate an immune response.

Source: Vijay’s blog