New research finds quantum physics can cause mutations in our DNA

New research finds quantum physics can cause mutations in our DNA
New research finds quantum physics can cause mutations in our DNA
Anonim

Groundbreaking research has confirmed that quantum mechanics plays a role in biological processes and causes mutations in DNA.

Quantum biology is an emerging field of science that emerged in the 1920s that studies whether the subatomic world of quantum mechanics plays a role in living cells. Quantum mechanics is by nature an interdisciplinary field that brings together nuclear physicists, biochemists, and molecular biologists.

In a research paper published in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, a team at the Leverhulme PhD Center for Quantum Biology in Surrey used state-of-the-art computer simulations and quantum mechanical techniques to determine the role of proton tunneling, a purely quantum phenomenon, in spontaneous mutations within DNA.

Tunneling of protons involves the spontaneous disappearance of a proton from one place and the reappearance of the same proton nearby.

The research team found that hydrogen atoms, which are very light, provide the bonds that hold the two strands of the DNA double helix together, and under certain conditions can behave like propagating waves that can exist in multiple locations at the same time, thanks to proton tunneling. This leads to the fact that sometimes these atoms end up on the wrong DNA strand, which leads to mutations.

Although these mutations have a short lifespan, the Surrey team found that they can still survive the DNA replication mechanism within cells and have the potential to have health consequences.

Dr. Marco Sacchi, Project Leader and Fellow of the Royal Society at the University of Surrey, said: “Many have long suspected that the quantum world - strange, counterintuitive and wonderful - plays a role in life as we know it. "something can be in two places at the same time, it may seem absurd to many of us, in the quantum world it happens all the time, and our research confirms that quantum tunneling also occurs in DNA at room temperature."

Louis Slocombe, a PhD student at the Leverhulme PhD Center for Quantum Biology and co-author of the study, said: “We still have a long and exciting journey to understand how biological processes work at the subatomic level, but our research - and countless others over the past years, - have confirmed that quantum mechanics is involved in the process. In the future, we hope to study how tautomers formed as a result of quantum tunneling can propagate and cause genetic mutations."

Jim Al-Khalili, co-author of the study and co-director of the Leverhulme PhD Center for Quantum Biology at the University of Surrey, said: “It was very exciting to work with this group of young, diverse and talented thinkers representing a broad coalition of the scientific world. as the most exciting area of ​​scientific research in the 21st century."

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