Identifying the source of all disease

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Faulty proteins account for most of the world’s sickness

In a major leap toward learning the basics of human biology and what makes it go awry, Harvard researchers have built the prototype of a high-tech chip that rapidly identifies proteins and their functions. Such chips may ultimately help to determine which proteins are responsible for which diseases. “We don’t yet know how many different proteins make up a human body,” admits Gavin MacBeath of Harvard University’s Center for Genomic Research. “We think it’s somewhere between 25,000 and 120,000. It may not be possible to make every one in a laboratory, but I believe that many of them can be made. Then they could be put on small glass chips that would allow us to determine what proteins potential drugs would bind to, or help us search for new drugs more efficiently.”