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Chemists develop motion capture-like technology for tracking protein shape

In many modern animated movies, the trick to achieving realistic movements for individual characters and objects lies in motion-capture technology. This process often involves someone wearing a tracking suit covered in small, colored balls while a camera captures the position of those colored balls, which is then used to represent how the person is moving. Researchers are developing a similar technology to obtain atomic-resolution "movies" that track how proteins fold and change shape. To generate these movies, the scientists label the protein with probes at many positions and observe the movement of those labels. The fluorescence data on the relative positions of the probes can then be used to construct computational models of the protein structure in atomic detail. This research could lead to improvements in drugs used to treat neurodegenerative diseases, as well as new methods of imaging that could lead to their earlier detection.

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