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Chiral life concept - creating mirror image synthetic life?

  1. Sep 29, 2013 #1
    Imagine mirror image of a cell - built from a scratch using mirror images (enantiomers) of molecules of the original cell. It should work as standard one, but use e.g. L-sugars instead of our D-sugars: article.

    Some possible applications:
    - doubling the space of possible enzymes we could design and produce,
    - such organisms would be incompatible with standard pathogens - we could design bottom-up really sterile ecosystems for extreme conditions like Mars,
    - maybe chiral humans immune to our pathogens - which are direct or indirect cause of most of illnesses including cancer - here is a long list of human diseases associated with infectious pathogens,
    - ... ?

    There are announcements of creating synthetic ribosome, cell membrane ... synthetic cell, so maybe within a few decades we could synthesize the whole alternative version of life - even manually using allowing to control single molecules AFM/STM synthesize chiral RNA, ribosome ... use it to produce proteins, which would be finally pumped into liposome to create first chiral prokaryote.
    Eucaryotes are much more complex so probable will take a few decades more, but we could target cell division phases when their structure is simplified, we could create organelles separately ... or even use a molecular 3D printer (AFM/STM) to build frozen parts molecule by molecule ... then creating chiral humans will be just inevitable.

    What do you think of such possibility - is it possible to realize? how much time will it take? what other applications could you think of? what would be implications to our society? ...
    And generally: what realistic practical applications of synthetic life could you think of?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2013 #2
    Interesting...certain enantiomers are deadly to standard lifeforms but if the whole lifeform was mirrored...
  4. Jan 28, 2017 #3
  5. Jan 30, 2017 #4
    It turns out it is already starting - synthesized mirror image version of polymerase in 2016 and plans to synthesize a cell:

    Remember that there are also dangers - for example mirror-chiral photosynthesizing cyanobacteria could dominate our ecosystem as not having natural enemies, disturbing the food chain: producing L-sugars instead of our D-sugars.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
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