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NASA creates three basic components of the genetic code of life in a laboratory

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A research funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and the NASA Origins of Solar Systems Programme has been able to create three basic components of RNA and DNA, thegenetic code of life on earth, in a laboratory.

The researchers discovered that an ice sample containing pyrimidine, when exposed to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions, produced the three essential ingredients of life – uracil, cytosine and thymine.

Pyrimidine, a ring-shaped molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen is the central structure for uracil, cytosine and thymine.

“We have demonstrated for the first time that we can make uracil, cytosine and thymine non-biologically in a laboratory under conditions found in space,” said Michel Nuevo, research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre, Moffett Field, California.

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“Our experiments suggest that once the Earth formed, many of the building blocks of life were likely present from the beginning,” said Scott Sandford, another space science researcher at Ames.

The researchers found that if pyrimidine is frozen in ice containing ammonia, methanol or methane, it has a much higher chance of surviving the harmful radiation of the interstellar space.

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Scientists discover UV light to kill flu virus

By contrast, the study found that continuous low doses of far-UVC light, which is around 207 to 222 nanometers in wavelength, is capable to inactivate more than 95 percent of aerosolized H1N1 flu virus in a lab setting

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earlier studies have proved that far-UVC light is not harmful to the human body. Wikimedia Commons
earlier studies have proved that far-UVC light is not harmful to the human body. Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have discovered a special type of ultraviolet (UV) light that can kill airborne flu viruses without harming human tissues, according to a new study.

Broad-spectrum ultraviolet C (UVC) light, which has a wavelength of between 200 to 400 nanometers, has been routinely used to kill bacteria and viruses by destroying the molecular bonds that hold their DNA together, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Unfortunately, conventional germicidal UV light is also a human health hazard and can lead to skin cancer and cataracts, which prevents its use in public spaces,” said David J.

Also Read: Scientists Use Pocket-size Device to Map Human Genetic Code

Brenner, lead author and director of the Centre for Radiological Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Centre, in a statement on Saturday.

By contrast, the study found that continuous low doses of far-UVC light, which is around 207 to 222 nanometers in wavelength, is capable to inactivate more than 95 percent of aerosolized H1N1 flu virus in a lab setting.

Moreover, earlier studies have proved that far-UVC light is not harmful to the human body.

If these results are confirmed in other scenarios, the use of overhead far-UVC light in hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, airports, aeroplanes and other public spaces could provide a powerful check on seasonal flu epidemics and pandemics, said the study.

Also Read: Your body could soon power wearable devices

Flu activity continues to increase across the United States, making the season the most recent “high” severity season, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report on Friday.

Sixty-three children died from flu this winter, it added. (IANS)

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