Personalized medicine - the promise of customizing treatments that will work best for each individual patient - could get a boost from advances in understanding how the proteins that help determine health and disease take the three-dimensional shapes needed to work in the body. That's the message of the latest episode of the 2012 edition of a popular video series from the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. The videos are available at www.acs.org/PrizedScience and on DVD.
Titled Prized Science: How the Science Behind American Chemical Society Awards Impacts Your Life, the final episode of the 2012 series features the research of Peter Wolynes, Ph.D., winner of the 2012 ACS Award in Theoretical Chemistry. The award is sponsored by Dell Incorporated. Wolynes is a professor at Rice University.
The award recognizes Wolynes' research on proteins, those workhorses of human cells that carry out the instructions from the genetic material DNA. His research aims to help scientists understand how proteins fold into the correct architecture to keep the body healthy and functioning properly. When proteins do not take the right shape, illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease, can develop. Even slight changes in a protein can have major effects on health, and understanding how this happens could help in the development of personalized medicine.
The premiere episode of Prized Science features Robert Langer, Sc.D., winner of the 2012 ACS Priestley Medal. The video explains Langer's pioneering work making body tissues in the lab by growing cells on special pieces of plastic. Langer's team has used the approach to make skin for burn patients, for instance, with the goal of eventually making whole organs for transplantation.