Newswise — According to quantum biologists from the University of Surrey, the unlocking of the immense potential of laboratory-designed DNA, commonly referred to as synthetic DNA, is poised to revolutionize various fields with groundbreaking advancements.

Diverging from naturally occurring DNA, synthetic DNA presents scientists with the opportunity to engineer novel genes or augment existing ones, presenting a gateway to revolutionary prospects in medicine and biotechnology. Moreover, synthetic DNA has the potential to sustain Darwinian evolution, laying the foundation for captivating advancements in comprehending genetic systems.

Quantum biologists at the University of Surrey conducted a distinctive study exploring the movement of protons within Hachimoji DNA, a synthetic DNA variant that has yet to be observed in natural organisms.

By employing density functional theory, the researchers from the University of Surrey utilized a methodology to determine the rate of proton transfer and its temperature-dependent effects. Their findings revealed that proton transfer occurs with greater ease in Hachimoji DNA when compared to conventional DNA. Particularly, specific base pairs in Hachimoji DNA facilitate proton movement that is approximately 30% faster than in regular DNA. This observation implies that Hachimoji DNA may exhibit a higher susceptibility to mutations in contrast to normal DNA.

Dr. Louie Slocombe, the principal investigator of the research project at the University of Surrey, remarked:

"The investigation into Hachimoji DNA and its unique characteristics holds great promise for the fields of synthetic biology and genetic research. Our study offers invaluable insights into the dynamics of proton transfer in Hachimoji DNA, thereby illuminating its potential impact on mutation rates."

"This knowledge holds the potential to steer future advancements in DNA engineering and broaden our understanding of genetic systems, not only on Earth but also in realms beyond our planet."

Hachimoji DNA, a laboratory-engineered synthetic DNA, surpasses the conventional four-letter genetic code (A, T, C, G) by incorporating four additional building blocks (Z, P, S, B). This expansion broadens the scope of genetic information, unlocking unprecedented possibilities in genetic research, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology. Hachimoji DNA holds great promise as a potential catalyst for engineering organisms with exceptional abilities and for pioneering groundbreaking drug development.

Dr. Marco Sacchi, one of the co-authors of the study conducted at the University of Surrey, expressed:

"The University of Surrey is dedicated to spearheading scientific research and catalyzing transformative breakthroughs. The exploration of Hachimoji DNA showcases the university's expertise in quantum biology and highlights the potential of this emerging field to unravel the complexities of genetic systems and leverage the capabilities of cutting-edge technologies."


Journal Link: RSC Advances