Through a complex chemical process, scientists have been able to develop multipurpose, artificial ‘cyborg’ cells in the laboratory. They share many characteristics of living cells while lacking the ability to divide and grow.

That non-replicable part is important. Artificial cells must be carefully controlled to be useful, and that simply cannot happen if they reproduce like real cells.

The researchers behind the new development think these cyborgs could have many different applications, from improving the treatment of diseases to Cancer To clean pollution through targeted chemical processes.

“Cyborg cells are programmable, do not divide, maintain essential cellular functions and acquire non-native abilities.” He says. Biomedical engineer Cheemeng Tan from the University of California, Davis.

Cell engineering is currently based on two key approaches: genetically modifying existing cells to give them new functions (more flexible but capable of replicating) and constructing artificial cells from scratch (non-replicating but with limited biological functions).

These cyborg cells are the result of a new, third strategy. The researchers took bacterial cells as their basis and added elements from artificial polymers. Once inside the cell, the polymer is exposed to ultraviolet light and binds to the hydrogel matrix, forming a natural mimic. External matrix.

While these cyborg cells were able to retain most of their normal biological functions, they became more resistant to stressors such as high pH and antibiotic exposure—stressors that kill normal cells. Like actual cyborgs, they’re serious.

“Cyborg cells maintain important functions including cellular metabolism. Mobilityprotein synthesis and adaptation to genetic cycles,” the researchers write in them Printed paper.

Laboratory tests on tissue samples showed that the newly developed cells were able to invade cancer cells, showing the potential of these modified biological structures for health treatments that could one day be used to deliver drugs to specific areas. Body.

As promising as these early results are, that’s still a long way off. The researchers said they now want to try using different materials to create these cells and also investigate how they are used.

It is also unclear exactly what prevents the cells from proliferating, which remains to be determined. The authors hypothesized that the hydrogel matrix could stop cell division by inhibiting cell growth or DNA replication, or both.

The combination of natural and artificial seen here in some ways takes the best elements of both, opening up new possibilities – “quasi vita” or “almost life”, as the researchers put it.

“We are interested in the bioethics of applying cyborg cells because they are both cells and materials derived from cells.” says Tan.

The study was published in Advanced science.

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