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Scientists ‘accidentally’ create plastic-eating enzyme

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Scientists have accidentally created an enzyme capable of eating plastic
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Scientists have accidentally created an enzyme capable of eating plastic
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Scientists have accidentally created an enzyme capable of eating plastic

Breakthrough follows experiments on plastic-eating bacteria found in Japan

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 6:28am

Scientists in Britain have “accidentally” created a mutant enzyme capable of breaking down plastic drinks bottles, which could be used to help tackle the planet’s pollution problem.

The breakthrough follows studies done on bacteria that had naturally evolved and was found feeding on plastic at a waste dump in Japan in 2016.

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University of Portsmouth biologist Professor John McGeehan and his colleagues were attempting to verify the claim when they “accidentally created a super-powered version of the plastic-eating enzyme”, The Independent reports.

“Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception,” McGeehan said.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the breakthrough was the result of “X-ray experiments” which caused the enzyme, dubbed PETase, to mutate, giving it a “supercharged ability to break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET)”, a popular plastic used by drink manufacturers.

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