UCI Scientists (And One Aussie), Discover a Way to Unboil Eggs

Doesn't this look delicious?
Doesn't this look delicious?
Photo by Edsel Little

Overcooked boiled eggs are horrible. The whites get rubbery, the yolk develops that little green sulfur ring, everything smells off, don't you wish you could just.. unboil them sometimes? No? Okay, good, because despite what the headline says, you still can't actually unboil eggs.

What's really cool though, is that a team of scientists at UC Irvine have now developed a way to re-nature (nature? un-de-nature?) proteins that have folded incorrectly so they can be reused. How'd they test their process out? By renaturing an egg protein that had been cooked for 20 minutes in near boiling water.

"Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg," said Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry. "In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order."

How useful is that going to be? Well, I'm glad you asked because the answer is very!

The method has possible applications in cancer research, farming, cheese making, and some other stuff. From the UCI press release:

"This method ... could transform industrial and research production of proteins," the researchers write in ChemBioChem.

For example, pharmaceutical companies currently create cancer antibodies in expensive hamster ovary cells that do not often misfold proteins. The ability to quickly and cheaply re-form common proteins from yeast or E. coli bacteria could potentially streamline protein manufacturing and make cancer treatments more affordable. Industrial cheese makers, farmers and others who use recombinant proteins could also achieve more bang for their buck.

Of course, the patent on the method has been filed by UCI. If you're interested, you should ask them about it. As for the other researchers who developed this process, these are their names: Tom Yuan, Joshua Smith, Stephan Kudlacek, Mariam Iftikhar, Tivoli Olsen, William Brown, Kaitlin Pugliese and Sameeran Kunche of UCI, as well as Callum Ormonde from the University of Western Australia.

Good job, everybody!

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You can also follow Charles Lam on Twitter @charlesnlam and Instagram @charlesnlam. He's less sardonic there, we swear.


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