The origin of life and the potential role of soaps

Martin M. Hanczyc, Pierre-Alain Monnard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearch


Single chain amphiphiles, such as fatty acids and alkyl sulfates, have found industrial uses as emulsifying agents, lubricants, detergents and
soaps. Fatty acids are also used as excipients and, because of their biochemical activity, even as active ingredients in drug formulations. The
applications are often linked to their amphipathic characters, i.e., their capacity to self-assemble into micelles or reverse-micelles. Their
capacity to form bilayer structures with properties comparable to cellular membranes is less exploited in the industry. However, this property
is central in the development of chemical model systems, so called protocells, aiming at understanding how cellular life emerged on the early
Earth, at the time abiotic environment, and could evolve toward contemporary cells.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLipid Technology
Issue number5-6
Pages (from-to)88-92
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


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