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Scientists find DNA's code for life in meteorites

Scientists find DNA's code for life in meteorites
A Meteorite from outer space is on display at a press preview for Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites at Christie's on Thursday, February 17, 2022 in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 26 (UPI) -- New evidence found in meteorites suggests the ingredients for life came from space.

Scientists at NASA and in Japan confirmed Tuesday they found all five key building blocks of DNA and RNA in space rocks that fell to Earth within the last 100 years, according to research published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Astrochemist Daniel Glavin at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said, "We've completed the set of all bases found in DNA and RNA and life on Earth, and they're present in meteorites," according to ScienceNews.

Previous research on the same rocks failed to detect all the pyramidines and purines found in DNA and RNA. Since the 1960s, researchers have been able to detect only parts of the five nucleobases -- adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine and uracil.

In the new study, researchers at Hokkaido University in Sapparo, Japan joined astrochemists at NASA to implement a milder extraction technique, used in genetic and pharmaceutical research, to keep the compounds intact. The technique was 100 times more sensitive and was able to detect small amounts of nucleobases.

The study's lead author, Yasuhiro Oba, an astrochemist at Hokkaido University, said the new state-of-the-art technique worked.

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"Our detection method has orders of magnitude higher sensitivity than that applied in previous studies," Oba said.

The results detected the components needed for life.

"The presence of the five primary nucleobases in meteorites may have a contribution to the emergence of genetic functions before the onset of life on the early earth," Oba said.

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