"Spooky" Quantum Biology Might Cause Your DNA to Mutate


Subatomic particles frequently exhibit weird quantum behaviour that is difficult to understand because they are too small, transient, and counterintuitive to do so on any practical scale. However, recent study defies this trend and contends that a peculiar quantum phenomena may seriously affect biological structures, even resulting in point mutations in DNA molecules.

The conclusion is that a peculiar quantum mechanism known as proton tunnelling is most suited to occur in the hydrogen bonds that connect two helical strands of DNA, according to research from the University of Surrey that was published last month in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

When a proton appears to disappear and then emerge somewhere else on the other side of a physical or energetic barrier, this phenomenon is known as proton tunnelling. It is less often to witness a proton tunnel than it is to observe something like an electron tunnel since protons are heavy in comparison to other subatomic particles that exist on the quantum scale. However, it is conceivable, and when it takes place within a DNA molecule, it has the ability to literally move atoms in the wrong directions, resulting in a mutation in the genetic code.

The lead author and Surrey chemist Marco Sacchi said in a news statement that "many have long thought that the quantum world — which is odd, counter-intuitive, and fascinating — plays a part in life as we know it." While it may seem crazy to many of us that anything could be present in two places at once, quantum tunnelling is a real phenomenon that occurs in DNA at room temperature, according to our study.

The likelihood that one of these quantum mutations will result in later medical issues is extremely unlikely, as the paper points out that DNA molecules can quickly right themselves. However, these mutations could take hold and spread through the DNA replication process, potentially creating problems or even raising the risk of cancer, just as with any other mutation.

Louie Slocombe, a quantum biologist and research coauthor, said in a statement that although "there is still a long and fascinating road ahead of us to understand how biological processes work on the subatomic level," other studies in recent years have established the existence of quantum mechanics.

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