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The Life Force

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Science  29 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6162, pp. 1032-1034
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6162.1032

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In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of chromosomes that help ensure genetic information is copied faithfully. But his biggest achievement may be yet to come. Szostak, a molecular biologist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, is working to recreate the origin of life, only this time in the lab. He and his team haven't accomplished their goal yet. But in this issue of Science, they report taking another key step: finding a recipe for copying RNA inside "protocells," membranes made from fatty acid molecules. Next they hope to show that RNA can replicate itself and show the initial signs of Darwinian evolution.