Interdisciplinary team uncovers potentially groundbreaking laser application

Vitaly Gruzdev, assistant research professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at MU, and his co-investigators — former MU Engineering faculty member Dmitry Korkin, MU Biochemistry faculty members Brian Mooney and Jay Thelen, and colleaguesJesper Havelund and Ian Max Moller from Aarhus University in Denmark  — began studying how ultrashort laser pulses aimed at targeted peptides and proteins could modify said peptides and proteins in order to make certain foods tolerable to those with specific food allergies.

They expected that firing laser pulses would cause the peptides and proteins to break up into smaller molecules, changing their properties with the potential benefit of rendering them less harmful to people allergic to them.

As it turned out, the pulses actually caused the molecules to get bigger by attaching to other molecules. The end result was the same, but how they got there was different than expected, as outlined in the recent publication, “Controlled modification of biomolecules by ultrashort laser pulses in polar liquids,” published by the prestigious journal Scientific Reports.

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