Achievement Unlocked : Scientists can now listen to proteins by turning data into music !

Hello guys !

Ever thought of music and biotechnology as a combination ? We never thought that music could actually be used in biotechnology, have we ? But now it’s possible. As the title of this post says … scientists can now listen to proteins by turning the data into music. Well not actually listening to proteins singing ! But,transforming data about the structure of proteins into melodies giving scientists a completely new way of analyzing the molecules that could reveal new insights into how they work. Interesting, isn’t it ?

The researchers, from the University of Tampere in Finland, Eastern Washington University in the US and the Francis Crick Institute in the UK, believe their technique could help scientists identify anomalies in proteins more easily.

Scientists usually study proteins visually and using data; with modern microscopy it is possible to directly see the structure of some proteins.

The scientists believe that the ears might detect more than the eyes, and if the ears are doing some of the work, then the eyes will be free to look at other things.

Using a technique called sonification, the researchers can transform data about proteins into musical sounds, or melodies.

A block diagram of sonification.

They found that  people can recognize links between the melodies and more traditional visuals like models, graphs and tables. The melodies are also pleasant to listen to, encouraging scientists to listen to them more than once and therefore repeatedly analyze the proteins.

The sonifications are created using a combination of Dr. Middleton’s music composing skills and algorithms, so that others can use a similar process with their own proteins. Here there is a multidisciplinary approach — combining bioinformatics and music informatics .

“Protein fold assignment is a notoriously tricky area of research in molecular biology,” said Dr. Robert Bywater from the Francis Crick Institute. “One not only needs to identify the fold type but to look for clues as to its many functions. It is not a simple matter to unravel these overlapping messages. Music is seen as an aid towards achieving this unraveling.” Now their job has become much easier with this technique.

The researchers say their molecular melodies can be used almost immediately in teaching protein science, and after some practice, scientists will be able to use them to discriminate between different protein structures and spot irregularities like mutations.

Proteins are the first stop, but because of this  knowledge other molecules could also benefit from sonification; one day we may be able to listen to our genomes, and perhaps use this to understand the role of junk DNA!

 

The above extract is referred from Science Daily

 

Edited by : Siddhi Rao.

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