Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthetic Copycat Of Living Cell Underway: Life, But Not As We Know It?

Date:
May 29, 2008
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
Researchers have taken some important first steps to creating a synthetic copycat of a living cell. Scientists have used polymers -- long-chain molecules -- to construct capsule-like structures that have properties mimicking the surfaces of a real cell. They show how in the laboratory they have been able to encourage the capsules to 'talk' to natural bacteria cells and transfer molecular information.

Researchers have used polymers to construct capsule-like structures that have properties mimicking the surfaces of a real cell.
Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have taken some important first steps to creating a synthetic copycat of a living cell, a leading science journal reports.

Dr Cameron Alexander and PhD student George Pasparakis in the University's School of Pharmacy have used polymers — long-chain molecules — to construct capsule-like structures that have properties mimicking the surfaces of a real cell.

In the new work, they show how in the laboratory they have been able to encourage the capsules to 'talk' to natural bacteria cells and transfer molecular information.

The breakthrough could have a number of potential medical uses. Among them could be the development of new targeted drug delivery systems, where the capsules would be used to carry drug molecules to attack specific diseased cells in the body, while leaving healthy cells intact, thereby reducing the number of side affects that can be associated with treatments for life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.

The technology could also be used as an anti-microbial agent, allowing doctors to destroy harmful bacteria, without attacking other health-promoting bacteria in the body, which could offer a new weapon in the fight against superbugs.

Dr Cameron Alexander said: “These are very primitive steps in the lab, and still a long way from a true synthetic counterpart to a biological cell, but we have demonstrated that we can transfer certain molecules from inside the synthetic capsule to the bacteria when they are in physical contact, which is an exciting development.

“It's extremely early stages, but it's a move closer to the big experiment when we can one day ask whether a natural cell can think a synthetic cell is one of its own.”

The work has been funded through the IDEAS Factory programme run by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which aims to promote blue sky, curiosity-led research. It comes ahead of the launch of one of the UK's first research networks into synthetic biology, which is led by Nottingham computer scientists and pharmacists with chemists at Oxford and Glasgow universities. The network, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the EPSRC Life Sciences Interface Programme, involves collaboration across six centres and includes scientific and ethics experts in the emerging field of synthetic biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. George Pasparakis, Cameron Alexander. Sweet-talking Double Hydrophilic Block Copolymer Vesicles. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Published Online: 26 May 2008 DOI: 10.1002/anie.200801098

Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "Synthetic Copycat Of Living Cell Underway: Life, But Not As We Know It?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528102914.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2008, May 29). Synthetic Copycat Of Living Cell Underway: Life, But Not As We Know It?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528102914.htm
University of Nottingham. "Synthetic Copycat Of Living Cell Underway: Life, But Not As We Know It?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528102914.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins