Artificial cells that wriggle around like the real thing

Autonomous movement is generated as fuel – sugar – is used up.

Artificial "cells" could someday whiz around in the body
and deliver medicines to specific locations, act as in-tissue diagnosticians and provide viable replacements for whole cells and organs.

To do this, they will need to be able to navigate the complex environments of our bodies. Now, in ACS Central Science, researchers report development of lab-made cells that use enzymes to move just like real cells. Check them out in the clip above.

Dutch biologists used computer modelling to calculate how many and how much of each enzyme would be needed to keep an artificial cell moving.

Then they constructed artificial cells containing just those components and fuelled them with sugar.

The team showed that the artificial cells moved in a directed way, but only when they contained all of the enzymes and fuel was available. The concept, they write, could be applied to many of the other fuel-dependent characteristics of life beyond movement to make different molecular life-like systems.

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