Scientists have been working on artificial cells for a long time. Now the scientists of America have got a big success in this direction. They have developed such a special structure with artificial cells, which can do all the necessary functions of living cells. If we talk in detail, researchers have made such artificial cells using inorganic materials, which will work like living cells, such as absorbing foreign substances, processing them, and taking out waste materials. This article has been published in the journal Nature.
Functions of living cells
A fundamental function of living cells is to receive environmental energy and pump molecules out of the system.
When energy is used to move these molecules from a low concentration region to a high concentration region, this process is called active transport. Active transport allows cells to take up essential molecules such as glucose or amino acids, store energy, and remove waste. In addition, active transport uses cellular energy to move molecules against a gradient, polar repulsion, or other resistance. Necessity of mineral nutrition in plants Examples includes the absorption of glucose in the intestines in humans and the entry of mineral ions into the root hair cells of plants.
For the past several decades, researchers have been working to create artificial cells. So far, all artificial cells made in this direction have lacked complex cellular processes such as active transport. For the first time, researchers have created an artificial cell that performs all the essential functions associated with living cells.
What are the functions of an artificial cell?
Researchers from New York University and the University of Chicago describe a brand new artificial cell that is very close to the function of a living cell. According to the researchers, during the study, when a mixture of different particles was poured over artificial cells, scientists revealed that they could absorb, store, and distribute those particles themselves. Minimal ingredients are involved in making these artificial cells. Apart from this, living organisms were not used in any way in their preparation.
How was the artificial cell developed?
The researcher created a circular membrane the size of a red blood cell using a polymer to design the artificial cells. This circular membrane is a stand-in for cellular membrane. Along with this, it controls the movement in and out of a cell. Next, they made a tiny hole in the circular membrane forming a nanochannel through which matter could be exchanged, mimicking a cell’s protein channel.
How does it get energy?
Active transport requires mechanisms to power the structures that are like cells to pull and remove materials. In living cells, mitochondria and ATP provide energy for active transport. The researchers added a chemically reactive component inside the nanochannel, which acts as a pump when activated by light. When light hits the pump, it triggers a chemical process. Then turns the pump into a small vacuum and Pulls the cargo across the membrane. When the pump stops, the cargo gets stuck and processed inside the artificial cells. When the chemical process reverses, it is pushed out.
According to Stefano Sacana, assistant professor of chemistry at New York University, Our design enables active transport functions in the artificial cells. It was so far confined to living cells only.