Navigation Links
Microprinting leads to low-cost artificial cells

Easily manufactured, low-cost artificial cells manufactured using microprinting may one day serve as drug and gene delivery devices and in biomaterials, biotechnology and biosensing applications, according to a team of Penn State biomedical engineers. These artificial cells will also allow researchers to explore actions that take place at the cell membrane.

"In a natural cell, so much is going on inside that it is extremely complex," said Sheereen Majd, assistant professor of biomedical engineering. "With these artificial cells -- liposomes -- we have just the shell, which gives us the ability to dissect the events that happen at the membrane."

Understanding how drugs and pathogens cross the cell membrane barrier is essential in preventing disease and delivering drugs, and researchers have created artificial cells for quite some time. However, Majd's team is creating large arrays of artificial cells, made of lipids and proteins, of uniform size that can either remain attached to the substrate on which they grow, or become separated and used as freely moving vessels. The researchers report the results of their work today (Dec. 15) in Advanced Materials.

"The trend in the pharmaceutical industry today is that they like to do high throughput screenings," said Majd. "They could use a large number of these artificial cells all of the same size with the same conditions in an array and monitor many cells at once." The researchers' cells are also different because they contain lipids with protein components the way cell membranes exist in nature. The various proteins serve to allow certain materials to enter and leave the cell, acting as regulators.

"These giant proteoliposomes closely mimic cellular membranes," said Majd. "So they are excellent model systems for studying processes that happen at the surface of cells such as the molecular events that occur when pathogens and drugs enter cells." Older methods of artificial cell creation used dried lipids, but in order to create cells with proteins, the system must remain moist because when proteins dry out, they become useless.

Using hydrogel stamping, a process that creates a stamp out of wet hydrogel that deposits dots of the lipid and protein mixture on the surface of the substrate, the researchers can lay out an array of potential artificial cell locations. They then apply an AC electric field to the substrate. Where the lipid and protein mixture exists, tiny bubbles form that eventually combine into one artificial cell. The result is an array of artificial cells neatly placed and spaced on the substrate.

"The physical phenomenon on exactly how the AC field creates the bubbles is not yet understood," said Majd. "But the bottom line is that the AC electric field produces agitation that creates the tiny bubbles that merge to form the cells. This process is called electroformation." The variety of lipids and proteins used can vary depending on the ultimate purpose of the artificial cells. The cells that form are between 20 and 50 microns, within the range of natural cells.

"The beauty of this method is that a lot of labs already use liposomes and electroformation," said Majd. "However, traditionally they do not have proteins attached."

Another problem is the traditional method creates artificial cells in tens of sizes situated all over the place, she added. Other methods require complex devices such as microfluidics to create uniformly sized artificial cells. With the hydrogel stamping method, it is easy to control the size of artificial cells and to generate a large number of these cells efficiently.

The researchers would next like to incorporate more than just lipids and proteins into the artificial cells. One possibility is to bind potential drugs to the proteins and lipids.


Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State

Related biology news :

1. Rising ocean acidification leads to anxiety in fish
2. Scripps leads first global snapshot of key coral reef fishes
3. Unlikely collaboration leads to discovery of gender-bending plant
4. Bleeding symptom leads scientists to intracellular traffickers role in virus propagation
5. Penn biologists show that generosity leads to evolutionary success
6. Cross-country collaboration leads to new leukemia model
7. Stress early in life leads to adulthood anxiety and preference for comfort foods
8. Fear factor: Missing brain enzyme leads to abnormal levels of fear in mice, reveals new research
9. Cool it, quick: Rapid cooling leads to stronger alloys
10. Cutting-edge bacteria research leads to more effective treatment of complex infections
11. Quest for edible malarial vaccine leads to other potential medical uses for algae
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/6/2017)... 2017 RAM Group , Singaporean ... breakthrough in biometric authentication based on a ... to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are based ... by Ram Group and its partners. This sensor will ... chains and security. Ram Group is a next ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... 19, 2017 The global military ... is marked by the presence of several large global ... by five major players - 3M Cogent, NEC Corporation, ... for nearly 61% of the global military biometric market ... the global military biometrics market boast global presence, which ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... -- NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ... 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on Thursday April 13, 2017 ... ... Investor Relations section of the Company,s website at  under ... . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... For the ... won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to ... Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of STEM ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM ... firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu ... , The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... 09, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting in North Carolina, ... University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ARCS ... for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of the accelerating ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... technologies, launched its ProxiMeta™ Hi-C metagenome deconvolution product, featuring the first commercially ... cloud-based bioinformatics software to perform Hi-C metagenome deconvolution using their own facilities, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: