Artificial cells take their first steps: Movable cytoskeleton membrane fabricated for first time

Sep 5, 2014

By Science Daily

Using only a few ingredients, the biophysicist Prof. Andreas Bausch and his team at the Technische Universität München (TUM) have successfully implemented a minimalistic model of the cell that can change its shape and move on its own. They describe how they turned this goal into reality in the current edition of the journal Science, where their research is featured as cover story.

Cells are complex objects with a sophisticated metabolic system. Their evolutionary ancestors, the primordial cells, were merely composed of a membrane and a few molecules. These were minimalistic yet perfectly functioning systems.

Thus, “back to the origins of the cell” became the motto of the group of TUM-Prof. Andreas Bausch, who is member of the cluster of excellence “Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM)” and his international partners. Their dream is to create a simple cell model with a specific function using a few basic ingredients. In this sense they are following the principle of synthetic biology in which individual cellular building blocks are assembled to create artificial biological systems with new characteristics.

The vision of the biophysicists was to create a cell-like model with a biomechanical function. It should be able to move and change its shape without external influences. They explain how they achieved this goal in their latest publication in Science.

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