Chirality of proteins and of carbohydrates (including those comprising DNA and RNA) is a known fact—proteins are made of “left-handed” component parts (or L-enantiomers) while sugars and nucleic acids contain only “right-handed” D-enantiomers. It is also important to consider the chirality of substances used as medications.
After reviewing the course material and doing some independent research on the drug Thalidomide and the influence of chirality on the side effects of this medication, answer 1 of the following questions.
- If life arose by “chemical evolution” (which is supposed to be new chemical compounds arising by random chance), what should be the proportion of each of the L- and D-enantiomers present in chiral compounds produced by random chance? How does this match with what we see in living systems? What conclusion can you make from this about the likelihood of life arising by “chemical evolution?"
- Why does chirality make a difference when new medications are developed? What is an ethical way of addressing this concern in the development process? What is the connection with the way the body is designed?
- With references.
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