The Rizk lab is interested in protein engineering.
Proteins are tiny machines that do almost everything in every living organism. They digest the food we eat, they form the fibers of our muscles and help us breathe, move and feel. The inside of your nose is coated with millions of smell receptor proteins that recognize smell molecules and help send the signal to your brain. Your tongue is full of taste receptor proteins, and your skin is cover in proteins that sense pressure, heat and cold. Plants, animals, fungi and bacteria all rely on proteins for their lives.
Many proteins are useful for human health. For example, insulin is important in regulating glucose levels in the blood. People with a form of diabetes must inject themselves with insulin daily to avoid dangerously high blood glucose levels. But many proteins can also be deadly. The venom of many snakes and other reptiles contains toxin proteins that can severely affect the nervous system of their victims.
The function of a protein depends on its three-dimensional structure. Nature has produced a vast array of protein structures that carry out an immensely large number of functions in all organisms. In the Rizk lab, we take an engineering approach to building new proteins. By redesigning the structure of proteins, we aim to obtain new functions for many applications. Our approach will also help us understand how these complex molecular machines work.
Our novel engineered proteins can be applied to design new nanomaterials, to construct biosensors for pollutants and environmental contaminants and to generate new reagents that can fight genetic disorders.
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