Researchers created artificial cells that mimic the original cells

The first-in-field achievement has ramifications for medicine delivery systems, diagnostic tools, and regenerative medicine initiatives.

Researchers Ronit Freeman and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina, using proteins and DNA, two fundamental components of life, described their methods for creating body-like cells in a recent paper that was published in Nature Chemistry. This first-in-field achievement has ramifications for medicine delivery systems, diagnostic tools, and regenerative medicine initiatives.

With this discovery, we can think of engineering fabrics or tissues that can be sensitive to changes in their environment and behave in dynamic ways.

Ronit Freeman, Applied Physical Sciences Department of the UNC College of Arts and Sciences.

Proteins combine to build tissues and cells, carrying out functions and forming structures. The cytoskeleton, the structural framework of a cell, is formed mostly by proteins. Cells must operate. Cells can change form and react to their surroundings because of the cytoskeleton.

Freeman Lab created functioning cytoskeleton-equipped cells that can alter form and respond to their environment without natural proteins. Using recycled genetic material and peptides as the building blocks of proteins, they created a novel programmable peptide-DNA method.

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DNA does not normally appear in a cytoskeleton,

We reprogrammed sequences of DNA so that it acts as an architectural material, binding the peptides together. Once this programmed material was placed in a droplet of water, the structures took shape.


With this kind of DNA programming, scientists may design cells to fulfil particular roles and even fine-tune a cell’s reaction to outside stimuli. Living cells are more complicated than the artificial ones produced by the Freeman Lab. Still, they are also more erratic and vulnerable to harsh conditions, such as extremely high or low temperatures.

The synthetic cells were stable even at 122 degrees Fahrenheit, opening up the possibility of manufacturing cells with extraordinary capabilities in environments normally unsuitable to human life.

Ronit Freeman

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According to Freeman, their materials are designed to task or to fulfil a given purpose before changing to fulfil a different one, as opposed to being made to last. By incorporating various peptide or DNA patterns to program cells in materials like textiles or tissues, their application may be made to order. These novel materials have the potential to revolutionise industries like biotechnology and medicine since they can be combined with other synthetic cell technologies.

This research helps us understand what makes life,

his synthetic cell technology will not just enable us to reproduce what nature does, but also make materials that surpass biology.

Ronit nFreeman

Source: UNC Research

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