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When proteins go bad: Quality control inside the cells

Welcome to Biomed Bites, a weekly feature that introduces readers to some of Stanford’s most innovative biomedical researchers.

The enthusiasm of Tom Wandless, PhD, in this video is contagious. Wandless, a professor of chemical and systems biology, injects vigor into the science of protein folding.

Just as in a factory assembly line, sometimes cells produce blooper proteins. And that's no good: These abnormal proteins can lead to diseases such as Parkinson's or Huntington's diseases, Wandless said.

Wandless and his team are currently working to understand how cells distinguish correct from incorrect proteins. "How the cell uses quality control machinery to recognize and ultimately degrade these proteins is a very important question, not only for basic sciences, but ultimately for disease as well," Wandless says in the video above.

Making inroads on diseases like Parkinson's alone would be quite an accomplishment, he says. "But what has excited me even more is the potential for understanding the role of protein degredation in disease we don't even understand yet."

Learn more about Stanford Medicine’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative and about other faculty leaders who are driving biomedical innovation here.

Previously: Decoding proteins using your very own super computer, Nobel winner Michael Levitt's animates biological processes and Packed and ready to go: The link between DNA folding and disease

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