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Can we create an Artificial Life?

—Yza Bella

This particular topic appeared in one of my Facebook friend's post, seems a very interesting one. For the past year, I have made a pretty close related article on it, still thirsty for more information which made me to research it once more.

In this article, we will find answer to one question and that is, CAN WE CREATE AN ARTIFICIAL LIFE?

The concept seems very fictional. We got many movies and stories that are covering up such concept on this one, well became realistic and possible with the help of Science.

Let's go first to the Basic Biology in order to understand the main point later.

In order for an organism to have a life, it must meet the characteristics of life such as reproduction, heredity, homeostasis, metabolism, cellular organization, growth and development, response to stimuli and adaptation through evolution. These are the basic things for a life to occur. Aside from these, we all know what the basic building blocks of life are and within them are the blueprint of life, the deoxyribonucleic acid.

Now the question, can we make artificial DNA since DNA is the backbone of life, wherein without it, there is no life.

Yes, and researchers already developed an Artificial DNA.

The DNA code for living organisms are made up of four different molecules or bases which called A, T, C, G. In a double helix DNA, these bases paired up to a specific base like A's connecting to T's and C's paired up with G's. In 2008, a team of researchers created the third and artificial bases of a DNA (I am pretty sure, you are freaked out now) and match each other namely NaM and 5SICS. The researchers used a method called “X-RAY CRYSTALLOGRAPHY” to take pictures while these bases are being matched.

Researchers at first puzzled why it worked so well. Introducing new objects or substances to our body might not work well but in this case, it isn't. But what really cause it to work well? Scientists believes that during the DNA polymerase, the bases are lined up neatly each other to match in a double helix with specific shapes but in these two artificial bases, they aren't shaped like the natural ones.

Romesberg and the others found out that the two artificial bases aren't lined up to edge to edge as natural bases do but moreover, a shift happened for the correct formation when copying or DNA polymerase happens. "The DNA polymerase apparently induces this unnatural base pair to form a structure that's virtually indistinguishable from that of a natural base pair," said Denis Malyshev, another Scripps Institute chemist in the study.

Additional information about Romesberg and this artificial DNA:

- In 2014, Romesberg and colleagues created a strain of E. coli bacteria that contained two unnatural letters, X and Y.

- “This is the first time ever a cell has translated a protein using something other than G, C, A or T,” Romesberg said. (The NaM and 5SICS nucleotides)

So we know how DNA got created artificially now let's proceed to the main question a while back, can we create artificial life?

Yes and very yes.

In order to create artificial life, you just need 8 ingredients. What are those?

-Two Proteins; -Three Buffering agents; -Two types of fat molecule; and -Chemical Energy.

For the past years, researchers are still continuing to achieve and improve greater heights for this goal. The main goal here isn't to become a creator but to understand how life originates and really works. Artificial life seems a nightmare to some but in the field of medicine and other fields, it is very useful, think about it carefully, instead of using albino rats or humans for lab subjects, why not create an artificial life for it to be experimented right? But again, all things must be regulated.

Pretty easy? Think again!

Sources, References and External/Additional Links:
Researchers Make Artificial Cells That Can Replicate Themselves ( Alexandra Ossola September 29, 2015)

U.S. scientists take step toward creating artificial life (Julie Steenhuysen, NOVEMBER 29, 2017 )

First Quantum Artificial Intelligence: 'We Tried and It Worked' (15.10.2018)

How biologists are creating life-like cells from scratch (Kendall Powell, 07 NOVEMBER 2018)

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