from the unnatural-selection dept.
vik points out an item about researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who have been developing proteins with specific binding affinity by pseudo-evolutionary processes, which appeared on Natureís Science Update site. Researchers Anthony Keefe and Jack Szostak have developed a method to indetify proteins to do a predetermined job from a vast number of random genes. The article makes an explicit connection to the potential of protein design as a pathway toward nanotechnology:
"It's 20 years since Eric Drexler, one of the prophets of nanotechnology, suggested that proteins could be engineered, and that molecular machines could be used in computing or medicine. But protein design has proved damnably difficult, because of our inability to predict how a linear sequence of amino acids will fold up into a three-dimensional protein. An evolutionary approach might sidestep this problem."
Drexler's 1981 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, which first proposed the protein engineering pathway, is cited.
vik writes: "An evolutionary approach to protein design may be more fruitful than protein-folding predictions in producing either protein-based machinery or using custom proteins as templates for the catalysis of nanoscale components."