Scientists discover new chemistry that may help explain the origins of cellular life: Chemists find simplest organic molecules can self-assemble to give cell-like structures under early Earth conditions

All life is cellular, but the origins of cellularity remain unknown. Scientists have discovered that simple organic compounds like glycolic and lactic acid polymerize and self-assemble into cell-sized droplets when dried and rewetted, as might have happened along primitive beaches and drying puddles. These cell-like compartments can trap and concentrate biomolecules, and can merge and separate, forming versatile and heterogeneous cell-like containers possibly critical for the origin of life.