Music and genetics may not be two things you would usually associate with one another, but the unusual combination could one day help improve medical diagnostics.
Researchers transform the structure of proteins into melodies, allowing them to be analysed using our ears rather than eyes.
The researchers, from the University of Tampere in Finland, Eastern Washington University and the Francis Crick Institute in London, believe their technique called “sonification” could help scientists identify anomalies in proteins more easily.
The researchers said ‘We are confident that people will eventually listen to data and draw important information from the experiences,’ said Dr Jonathan Middleton, a composer based at the Eastern Washington University.
‘The ears might detect more than the eyes, and if the ears are doing some of the work, then the eyes will be free to look at other things.’
Proteins, which have many different functions, are usually studied visually under the microscope.
But using a technique called sonification, the researchers transformed data about proteins into melodies.
The aim of their study, published in the journal Heliyon, was to answer three main questions – what the data sounds like, whether there any benefits and if can we hear particular anomalies in the data.
‘Protein fold assignment is a notoriously tricky area of research in molecular biology,’ said Dr Robert Bywater, from the Francis Crick Institute.
‘One not only needs to identify the fold type but to look for clues as to its many functions.
‘It is not a simple matter to unravel these overlapping messages. Music is seen as an aid towards achieving this unravelling.’
The researchers say their melodies could be used to teach protein science, and in the near-future could be used to pinpoint mutations.
But it does not have to stop at proteins.
The researchers hope one day other molecules could be turned into melodies, and sonification could even be used to listen to entire genomes.
This multidisciplinary approach – combining genetics and music – provides a completely new perspective on a complex problem in biology.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3871274/Diseases-soon-diagnosed-using-MUSIC-Turning-proteins-melodies-help-save-lives.html