Telekom Electronic Beats

Mapping Melody Onto Human Proteins Could Save Lives

Using a process called sonification, a scientist and a composer are mapping melodic forms onto microscopic protein structures to help detect genetic mutations.

With the sheer number of essential proteins required to constitute a healthy human body, a perennial problem for medical researchers has been how to sift through the huge amount data to determine and recognize where medical issues may arise with protein structure.

Chemical biologist, Robert Bywater and composer, Jonathan Middleton have attempted to solve this problem with the use of musical annotation. By rendering protein structure into melodic form, determining differences and problems in proteins would be put to music. As the New York Times writes, this method “shows that it’s possible to listen to the structure of a protein as a melody, as it turns, twists, flattens and folds like a wild hair.” Bywater envisions a website where scientists could upload a genome and exchange it for a music file. Determining genetic mutations would then become a matter of listening for the wrong note in a song. Listen to some protein melodies here.

Read more: Artist creates synth from his own stem cells