Cronin Group Develop Chemical Search Engine to search for the simplest routes to life
In a paper published in Nature Communication, researchers from the Cronin Group have unveiled a new approach to synthesising complex peptides by using a robotic “search engine” to search through chemical space.
Professor Cronin said: “Proteins are some of the basic building blocks of life, and we’ve long known that they make up the working machinery of living cells. However, we’re still struggling to determine whether proteins came first or if the genetic machinery of DNA or RNA did.
“Our research aimed to help answer this question by creating a robot capable of creating many different random combinations of conditions, and them focusing in on the promising ones. Very quickly, we found that it was possible to assemble the building blocks just like the way we find them in modern proteins. Our chemical search engine is able to search large amounts of chemical space, similar to how systems like Google search the internet. Instead of reading HTML, however, the system performs chemical reactions.”
Article on RSC Chemistry World website
Article on University of Glasgow website