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About us Faculty of Science and Engineering Research FSE research themes Molecular Life & Health Key research

Building a synthetic cell

The living world around us is driven by continuous fluxes of energy and matter and one of the grand challenges in (bio)chemistry is to study such systems that are ‘out-of-equilibrium’. The synthetic cell theme aims at generating molecular understanding of what constitutes the core of life.

Focus is on synthetic autocatalytic (self-replicating) systems and on enzymatic networks and the (self-)assembly of structural components of the cell. The assembly of minimal life or a synthetic cell from basic molecular components is emerging as a new and exceptionally exciting frontier in science and engineering.

The bottom-up synthesis of a cell is not only a formidable engineering challenge, but will also allow unravelling the principles of life processes in a truly fundamental way. At the same time it brings unprecedented opportunities for applications in health, biotechnology and materials.

The bottom-up approach of e.g. synthetic cell-based delivery systems (pro-drug activation, controlled release, the building of cellular components, and the non-invasive interference with cellular processes, i.e. photopharmacology, optogenetics) will be complementary to the tissue-slice and microfluidics drug testing platforms that are currently established to form true substitutes for animal testing

Last modified:31 January 2017 10.51 p.m.