Collaboration Could Help Chart the Protein Universe

Photo of John Markley

The billions of proteins that compose life on Earth remain one of the truly uncharted territories in the biological universe, due mainly to the slow and arduous techniques their exploration requires.

Now, a research partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Japanese university and company aims to develop a technology that may allow scientists to map the shapes and structures of proteins more easily than ever before. The advance promises to help unlock the inner workings of hundreds or even thousands of proteins, according to UW-Madison biochemistry professor John Markley, leading to a better understanding of protein-based diseases, and providing fundamental new information about the building blocks of all living beings, from bacteria to plants to people.

An agreement signed this week by the UW-Madison’s Center for Eukaryotic Structural Genomics (CESG), the university’s patent management agency the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan, and the Japanese biotechnology company Cell-Free Sciences of Yokohama, formalizes an ongoing collaboration between these groups to refine a powerful new system, created in Japan, for making the large quantities of purified protein that biochemists need to solve protein structures.

Read More