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Apr 04, 2017 03:23 AM EDT

Harvard Scientist Discovers Phoenix Vesicles in Quest to Mimic Life

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A Harvard scientist relates his recent feat phoenix vesicles in his quest to mimic life. Juan Perez- Mercader created a system that mimics the life cycle of a phoenix when he sought for the earliest cell model. It's artificial but it grows, it's responsive to the light, it replicates after destruction, and it exhibits signs of rudimentary evolutionary selection.

Perez- Mercader attempted to mimic early cell behavior. His main component however is a molecule that is not found in living things, Harvard Gazette reported. Perez- Mercader is a physicist in training and his recent work is a follow up on a paper he did in 2003 about the basic properties of life building on mathematical models.

Perez- Mercader said he is trying to mimic life in a completely artificial way. He is a member of the Origins of Life Initiative, which is an effort that aims to reveal if life is abundant in the universe, Origins reported. According to Perez- Mercader, like the DNA, life has main attributes that include storage, communication, usage, and replication of information.

He said life metabolizes, which allows it to make its own parts. It is also self-replicating and self-evolving. Perez- Mercader further impressed that life is that way because of chemistry. Furthermore he said that it has the ability to separate itself from the environment, a quality which allows the chemistry of life to occur even on an encapsulated structure.

Perez- Mercader basically created a soup of 2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate with a light-sensitive metal called ruthenium. The result is a modified molecule that responds to light, links with others into polymers, which form into spherical vesicles. His system is activated with blue light and after five hours the mixture changes.

By six hours the system becomes turbid and then develops containers. These containers pop or implode and then grow again and begin to do other things. It demonstrates a regenerative behavior, which is why Perez- Mercader calls it the phoenix vesicles; which is like a phoenix that combusts and then rebirths.

Perez- Mercader believes that his study can become a lesson about early life. He also said it can be used to create a delivery system that self-assembles. He said the findings are very interesting, but it needs to be explored.

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