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Protein Found Conducting Electricity For The First Time

Nov 27, 2017
A Protein Has Been Caught Conducting Electricity, And Scientists Are Really Excited

If you've read Albert Szent-gyorgyi's piece "Cancer and the Living State" you know that the idea of proteins as conductors is incredibly important to his concept of life, and probably to Ray's work as well. His idea was that proteins in the living state get desaturated by something, like oxygen, which in turn allows them to be reactive/conductive, because they don't have a full orbital shell. I think the idea of proteins as conductive is also vital to Gilbert Ling's and Pollacks work on the association induction hypothesis and alternate theory of the cell.

Apparently they found proteins as conductive for the first time in this study.

The article also talks about a scientist who tries to apply quantum theories to biology in a way that sounds very up Szent-gyorgyi's alley.

"Sure enough, they found that when the glue-like integrin protein domain alphaVbeta3 was hooked up between two electrodes, it showed "remarkably high electronic conductance".

In the years since, the team has been trying to find an explanation that fits the phenomenon – an explanation such as electron hopping, where electrons can jump between atoms over distances. But nothing seemed to fit the data in the experiment.

Then Lindsay came across the work of theoretical biophysicist Gabor Vattay from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, who put forward an idea based on quantum mechanics that proteins are "poised" at a special state between conducting and insulating.

An electrical fluctuation can kickstart a protein into being either an electrical conductor or an electrical insulator, Vattay says, and that seems to match what Lindsay and his colleagues were finding in their tests.

"In our experiments, we were seeing this weird behaviour in this huge protein conducting electricity, but it is not static. It's a dynamic thing," says Lindsay."

As for the italics part, I forget my szent-gyorgyi and my reading on redox reactions a little, but wouldn't that "electrical fluctuation" that "kickstarts" a protein into being an electrical conductor or insulator, be akin to an initial reaction with an electron acceptor that causes it to be desaturated? or am I wrong

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