Synthetic Vesicles and Artificial Cells
Bottom-up Synthetic Biology: Building Cells from Scratch
Cells are biological machines that can perform an enormous number of tasks precisely and efficiently. They do that by organizing intricate processes in functional modules of increasing complexity contained in soft compartments. This realization has inspired scientists to apply engineering principles to build artificial cells using bio-inspired building blocks, natural or synthetic. The motivation behind building synthetic cells and organelles from scratch, also known as the bottom-up approach, is that we gain full control over the structure, functions, and behavior of the cells we create in the lab. Moreover, the bottom-up approach allows us to understand how cells work and to use that knowledge to create new materials that will help us create sustainable solutions for global technological challenges. Results of this research will be used to create efficient drug delivery systems, powerful chemical and biological sensors, systems for CO2 fixation, and bioreactors for minimized waste generation or deactivation of toxins in water. In our group, we build and design functional modules and cell-like systems (synthetic cells and organelles) using methods from polymer chemistry, nanotechnology, biochemistry, and materials science.