Glowing Protein Drinks(?) From Japan

Glowing protein will make an impact on medicine, energy conservation and maybe your tummy?


A team of Japanese scientists has developed light producing proteins called ‘Nano-lanterns’.  The proteins release sky-blue, green or yellow-orange light visible to the naked eye, depending on the type of protein.  This has been reported in an online paper by the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


The developers from Osaka University and the Riken institute are hoping the new light source will be used in medical research and also as an alternative to electric lights.

Fluorescent proteins can be used in medicine to closely observe cells and tissue, but they require exposure to an external light stimulus in order to glow.  The light tends to kill the cells under observation.  Other glowing proteins that have been used release very weak light which supersensitive cameras need very long exposures just to capture the image.  That is, until now with these new super glowing proteins!

Professor Takeharu Nagai and his teammates achieved this modern day miracle by combining types of glowing proteins:  glowing sea pansies (Renilla reniformis) and fluorescent jellyfish and corals.  (That’s right, these are hybrid proteins!)  When treated with a special chemical substance, (wonder what that is), the proteins become 20 times brighter than their conventional counterparts.  “In the future, we also hope to create street trees that glow so that we can save electricity,” said Nagai.

I just wonder, who’s going to be the first company to market this into sports drinks and/or alcohol!  Um… yum?



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