Study reveals the influence of nuclear spin on biological processes

Traditionally ignored phenomenon reveals potential for breakthroughs in biotechnology.

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Scientists have long believed that nuclear spin had no impact on biological processes. However, a new study challenged this long-held assumption- suggesting that nuclear spin significantly impacts biological processes.

The study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with groups from HUJI, Weizmann, and IST Austria reveals the influence of nuclear spin on biological processes. The research team examined the dynamics of stable oxygen isotopes (16O, 17O, and 18O) and discovered that nuclear spin has a major impact on oxygen dynamics in chiral environments, notably in its transport.

The study could lead to the development of ways for controlled isotope separation. It could revolutionize nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology.

Prof. Yossi Paltiel, the lead researcher, stated, “Our research demonstrates that nuclear spin plays a crucial role in biological processes, suggesting that its manipulation could lead to groundbreaking applications in biotechnology and quantum biology. This could revolutionize isotopic fractionation processes and unlock new possibilities in fields such as NMR.”

To understand the strange behavior of microscopic particles in living things, researchers funded research in some areas where quantum effects alter biological functions.

This relationship between the vast world of particles and living things presumably dates back billions of years to the beginning of life and the emergence of molecules with chirality, a unique structure. Chirality is significant because only molecules with the appropriate shapes can perform the functions living beings require.

“Spin,” which resembles a minute magnetic feature, was revealed to be the connection between chirality and quantum mechanics. Chiral Induced Spin Selectivity (CISS) is a property of chiral compounds that allows them to interact with particles differently depending on their spin.

Scientists have discovered that spin impacts small particles like electrons in life processes involving chiral compounds. They were interested in determining whether spin impacted bigger particles, such as ions and molecules, which form the basis of biological movement. They conducted tests using water particles with various spins.

The findings demonstrated that spin affects how water acts in cells, entering at different speeds and responding in a particular manner when chiral molecules are present.

This study emphasizes the significance of spin in biological processes. The ability to comprehend and manipulate spin may significantly affect how living things function. Additionally, it could lead to new medical imaging advancements and disease-treating approaches.

Journal Reference:

  1. Vardi, Ofek, et al., Nuclear spin effects in biological processes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2300828120
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