Synthetic Membranes that Grow Like Living Cells

This week, a group of chemists and biologists working at the University of California San Diego announced that they have designed and synthesized an artificial cell membrane capable of sustaining continual growth, just like a living cell. This achievement is expected to serve as an important tool for advances in synthetic biology and research on the origins of life.

The researchers' published work states that they substituted a "complex network of biochemical pathways used in nature with  a single autocatalyst that simultaneously drives membrane growth.” This led to a system that is able to transform simpler, higher-energy building blocks into new artificial membranes.

The scientists' work was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences here. You can view a time-lapse video of artificial membrane growth.