Protein cage

For decades chemists have been fascinated by molecular capsules for the potential of such entities in drug delivery, catalysis, as sensors and in other areas. Often these structures are self-assembled from synthetic subunits, but chemists at the University of California Los Angeles, led by Todd Yeates, turned to nature for inspiration and have now made the largest synthetic molecular capsule from self-assembling designer protein molecules. The cube-shaped cage comprises 24 copies of the designer protein and is not only larger, but more porous, than any other such protein cage. The hopes is that this structure might pave the way to synthetic vaccines for a wide range of lethal diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and influenza, perhaps even Ebola, in the long term.