Can Synthetic Polymers Replace the Body’s Natural Proteins?

Can Synthetic Polymers Replace the Body’s Natural Proteins?

Artificial Polymers Replace Natural Proteins in Biological Fluids

Biological fluids are made up of hundreds or thousands of different proteins (represented by space-filling models above) that evolved to work together efficiently but flexibly. UC Berkeley polymer scientists are trying to create artificial fluids composed of random heteropolymers (threads inside spheres) with much less complexity, but which mimic many of the properties of the natural proteins (right), such as stabilizing fragile molecular markers. Credit: Zhiyuan Ruan, Ting Xu lab, UC Berkeley

Artificial intelligence has been utilized to synthesize random heteropolymers that imitate proteins found in blood serum and the cytosol of cells.

The majority of life on Earth relies on polymers made up of 20 different amino acids, which have evolved into hundreds of thousands of specialized proteins. These proteins perform various functions such as catalyzing reactions, forming the backbone and muscles, and even generating movement.

However, is all this variety necessary? Can biology work just as effectively

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