Scientists have shown that sugars essential for life to begin can be produced by a previously unknown pathway. For decades, chemists thought that the formose reaction was the only route for sugar production, but the a study may push research in pre-life chemistry past this hurdle. The research was funded in part by the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology program, an element of the NASA Astrobiology Program.

The team from the Scripps Research Institute reporting their research online ahead of print in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was funded by the Skaggs Research Foundation, NASA Astrobiology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program (NNX09AM96G), and jointly supported by the National Science Foundation and the NASA Astrobiology Program under the NSF Center for Chemical Evolution (CHE-1004570).