Apr 12, 2017

Scientists Witnessed DNA Protecting Itself From Radiation

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, innovation

DNA protects itself from damage naturally, and scientists are hoping to gain insight into how the process works. When DNA is bathed in ultraviolet light, it can eject a single proton from a hydrogen atom to rid itself of excess energy, ensuring other chemical bonds remain intact. This protective mechanism is called an excited state proton transfer, and it is the focus of new research by a team of scientists.

The researchers used the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to generate X-ray laser pulses capable of probing the nitrogen molecule — in the simple molecule 2-thiopyridone — for quadrillionths of a second. The short period of time matters because when molecules are exposed to this kind of light they react incredibly quickly. The brightness of the light is equally important, because only very brilliant illumination renders these ultrafast changes visible to the researchers.

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