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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Creation of Self-Replicating RNA May Mimic First 'Living' Organisms

July 25, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

Biologists have taken a small step closer to reproducing the origins of life by creating self-replicating RNA, the substance used by cells to transmit genetic information from DNA to cellular machinery. Many scientists now think that the first life was composed entirely of RNA. Self-replicating RNA would thus have many properties of the first "living" organism.

Biologist David Bartel and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported in Nature that they combined specially designed synthetic RNA, a synthetic enzyme known as a ribozyme, and the four chemicals that make up RNA (known as nucleotides) and found that the nucleotides joined up correctly, using the RNA as a template, or map, for proper formation.

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