beam of X-rays coming in from the left hits a protein crystal and is scattered to produce a pattern of spots called an X-ray diffraction image. In a mere 19 minutes, Elves can convert that image into a 3-D picture of the protein. (Credit: James Holton/LBNL)
Scientists are finding a computer program called Elves to be a nearly magical solution to the tedious and time-consuming task of determining the 3-D shape of proteins - a major focus of cutting-edge proteomics today - from X-ray diffraction data.
According to Elves developer James Holton, who recently received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, researchers can unleash Elves on a set of X-ray diffraction data and go on to other things - or take a nap - while the computer does the hard work and spits out a protein structure. "This is the first time anyone has reported a computer generating a protein structure by itself," he said.
"By automating X-ray crystallography, Elves dramatically speeds the process and reduces errors," added Thomas Alber, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. "In a recent record case, James used it to solve a new structure in 19 minutes, which is fast compared to a typical time of days to weeks."
Robert Sanders | UC Berkeley
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Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
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