Indian scientist creates first artificial cell membrane that grows like a living one

Photo Credit: American Bazaar Online

WASHINGTON, USA – There’s a big breakthrough in terms of cellular studies; as a team headed by an Indian-American scientist successfully created the first artificial cell membrane that is capable of sustaining continuous growth, just as a natural healthy living cell would do.

Neal Devaraj, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at University of California, in San Diego said, “The membranes we created, though completely synthetic, mimic several features of more complex living organisms, such as the ability to adapt their composition in response to environmental cues.”

PC-Tablet Media quoted Devaraj explaining that for developing the growing membrane, his team substituted a complex network of biochemical pathways used in nature with a single autocatalyst, which in turn simultaneously drives membrane growth.

The details of their findings are shared through an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to the study, the self-growing membranes have been made before by using a catalyst. However, the catalyst is diluted as the membranes grow, until the growth rate eventually ceases.

Photo Credit: Devaraj Group
Photo Credit: Devaraj Group

“Here we report on the design of a simplified lipid-synthesizing membrane that uses a synthetic, membrane-embedded catalyst that is capable of self-reproduction,” the study said.

“These results demonstrate that complex lipid membranes capable of indefinite self-synthesis can emerge when supplied with simpler chemical building blocks,” the research added explaining how the results was achieved.

Devaraj shared that the new advancement in the production of synthetic cell membranes that grow like real membranes will be an important new tool for both for synthetic biology and origin of life studies.

With results achieved from the study, scientists can now replicate more accurately the behavior of the living cell membranes.

The other researchers in the study were Michael Hardy, Jun Yang, Christian Cole, Jangir Selimkhanov, and Lev Tsimring, who are all part of University of California in San Diego, American Bazaar Online reported.