You won’t find these unusual gummies in your trick-or-treat stash. The bite-sized candies are edible models of proteins. Bryan Shaw designed them to help visually impaired students learn about the 3-D structure of large biological molecules. Shaw, a chemist at Baylor University in Texas, was inspired by his 13-year-old son, Noah, who is blind in one eye.
People who are visually impaired often use touch and taste to identify objects. So Shaw created models of six different proteins. When blindfolded students placed the models in their mouths, they were able to identify the protein represented 86 percent of the time. “Your tongue is about twice as sensitive as your fingertips,” says Shaw.