New Understanding in Biology: Quantum Biology

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New Understanding in Biology: Quantum Biology

Quantum biology refers to the usage of quantum mechanics in biology. This subject was first discussed in 1944 by Erwin Schrödinger1. However, this field is officially have called in Per- Olov Löwdin’s study1.

Quantum mechanics are dealing with the small scale of elements like atomic and subatomic particles by using the mathematical conversion of quantum theories. Unlike quantum, genetic is dealing with bigger particles than an atom but is still small. Also, new studies show us quantum mechanics more useful and meaningful than classical physics2. The first reason is, both quantum and genetic concern small particles at nanoscale while classical physics concern macromolecules. Up to now and still, classical physics used to determine most of the processes in living organisms at steady-state or special conditions2. However, in real life, these conditions are not always provided. Despite these facts, quantum thought to be irrelevant to living-organisms. However, studies showed quantum and genetic are highly connected.

Photosynthesis one of the best examples, according to the relation of the quantum and subatomic particles. In photosynthesis, charge and energy transfer occur due to involving of protons, electrons, and ions. For excitation energy transfer, Franck & Teller (1938) had used the quantum coherent mechanism that is relevant to the superposition of electron excitation3. Due to the development in technology, quantum and genetic relation between photosynthesis and quantum have developed. So, coherent supervisions became traceable at cryogenic temperature up to 2010. In 2010, these coherent supervisions became detectable at physiological temperature. That is the most surprising development because scientists thought the quantum coherence mechanism was fragile at physical temperature. Charge transfer in photosynthesis also has an impact on quantum biology3. It is happening at a microsecond timescale, while quantum thought is not valid such macroscale. The results have shown, electronic (quantum) coherence has a strong correlation with charge transfer, and the experimental results represent a new energy transfer pathway that cannot detect by using classical physics3.

The enzyme is a complex macromolecule in our body. Also, the enzyme-reaction complex is hard to observe and analyze due to the different and complex properties of an enzyme and unique working conditions so, generalizing is also an issue4. When we look at the enzyme-quantum relation, we can see that most of the methods for using calculation or analyzing enzyme and its reaction are used combined methods that include both quantum mechanics (QM) and molecular mechanics (MM). The general system can be shown as:

ETOTAL= EQM + EMM + EQM/MM + EBoundary

In the formula, QM is mostly used for a smaller portion than MM and found at the center of the enzyme. EQM/MM is used for the interaction of two mechanics4. This general system can be remodeled due to the concerned molecule.

On the other hand, the most interesting thing about the relation of the quantum and enzymes is happening prediction and de novo synthesis area.Computational enzyme design was raised by using software programs, the best example is RosettaMatch which is established by David Baker5. However, three-dimensional description of an enzyme still an issue, so scientists believe that computational methods results, protein scaffolds, can be corporate whit three-dimensional active site by using quantum mechanics5. In that situation, the model system (theoretical enzyme) is using. However, to get convincing results, further investments are needed.

Oncogenic mutations lead to cancer development, and cancer is a worldwide disease. In cancer, there are still uncertain concepts are found. Quantum mechanics can be the key to these uncertainties. Quantum dynamic framework is the key for understanding mutations and cell communications in cancer. This quantum mechanics turn to mathematical approaches for modeling by Utahamacumaran1. The result presents a better understanding of cancer, and this model can enlighten personalized medicine for patients in the future. On the other hand, quantum field theory had used for reprogramming cancer cells due to their similarity with embryonic cells by Biava1. Lastly, quantum dots-based medicines are using for cancer treatment over the decade, and they are more specific than other existing treatments.

Orh OR theory is a quantum theory that is developed for neurobiology by Hameroff and Penrose6. The considers microtubules and localizes the Orh OR in there. As a result, Orh OR had led the founding of biological qubits which means quantum nature area6.

Table 1: General summary of quantum principles and related biological field1.

Table 1: General summary of quantum principles and related biological field1. (Goh , Tong, & Pusparajah, 2020).

In conclusion, quantum mechanics are using in different fields in biology. Generally, seen as mathematical approaches, some remains still is a theory. However, development in software, genetic, and quantum is lead new studies come up and turn into useful tools. Up to the past few decades, quantum thought far away from biology, but in the end, they are likely connected to each other, and according to given examples at the upper side, it is suited better than classical physics. Living organisms consume and provide energy, also, made up of atoms and subatomic particles. Classical physics cannot analyze and define such small-scale understanding, despite quantum mechanics.


  1. Goh, B. H., Tong, E. S. & Pusparajah, P. Quantum Biology: Does quantum physics hold the key to revolutionizing medicine? Drug Discov. Biomed. Sci. (2020) doi:10.36877/pddbs.a0000130.
  2. McFadden, J. & Al-Khalili, J. The origins of quantum biology. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences (2018) doi:10.1098/rspa.2018.0674.
  3. Marais, A. et al. The future of quantum biology. Journal of the Royal Society Interface (2018) doi:10.1098/rsif.2018.0640.
  1. Ranaghan, K. E. & Mulholland, A. J. Investigations of enzyme-catalysed reactions with combined quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methods. Rev. Phys. Chem. (2010) doi:10.1080/01442350903495417.
  2. Zhang, X. et al. Quantum mechanical design of enzyme active sites. Org. Chem. (2008) doi:10.1021/jo701974n.
  1. Adams, B. & Petruccione, F. Quantum effects in the brain: A review. arXiv (2019) doi:10.1116/1.5135170.

Figure References:

Table-1: Goh, B. H., Tong, E. S. & Pusparajah, P. Quantum Biology: Does quantum physics hold the key to revolutionizing medicine? Prog. Drug Discov. Biomed. Sci. (2020) doi:10.36877/pddbs.a0000130.


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