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Duons: the Second DNA Code and its Implications for Medical Research

, Duons: the Second DNA Code and its Implications for Medical Research

When James Watson and Francis Crick documented the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in April 1953, the public shared in what the scientific community had been anticipating for a long while: the molecule of life. More specifically, Watson and Crick found that double helix-shaped DNA molecules transmit the information necessary for all living organisms to grow, mature, and pass genetic information on to the next generation. As medical technology improved over the coming decades, DNA gave way to genetics research in an astounding number of fields, from plant hybridization to human diseases. Genetics researchers have since been able to alter plant DNA to produce strains that can grow in arid climates, thus making a gigantic positive impact on agriculture in areas without much arable land.

As for human diseases, international genetics researchers collaborated on the Human Genome Project to sequence the entire known human genome. The full human genetic sequence includes the arrangement of base pairs (adenine-thymine and guanine-cytosine) necessary to construct every kind of human cell. As our understanding of the human genome improves, medical professionals will stand a better chance of understanding the nature of human diseases (as well as developing possible cures).

Just because the human genome has been fully sequenced, however, does not mean that we have ceased to discover useful information hidden within our old double helix-shaped companion, DNA. In 2014, scientists working on the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project (ENCODE) found that DNA molecules utilize genetic information to “write” genetic code in two separate languages (previously, DNA molecules were thought to use only one language). We had known, for example, that DNA molecules describe how proteins are made, and consequently the scientific community had assumed that was DNA’s primary function. The second code, or rather, the second language that DNA utilizes, uses a 64-letter alphabet of what are called “codons” to transmit the incredible complexity that life requires. This second code is thought to be what controls the genes themselves.

Duons, a special type of codon, transmit information related to both DNA molecule functions: protein structure and gene control. Being able to transmit both kinds of information simultaneously is a principle of quantum computing known as a superpositional state. In more recognizable computing terms, entities in a superpositional state function as both a 1 and a 0 simultaneously. This means that DNA molecular informational storage capacity is considerably greater than previously imagined. It also suggests that over time, nature has developed an informational transfer system related to quantum computing. The key to understanding the nature of human consciousness (the mechanisms behind decision-making, for example) may lie in a better understanding of how these duons transmit their genetic information.

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