Artificial Cell Components and Membranes, the Start of a Fusion Between Biology and Biotechnology Inside the Body

There will be no bright dividing line between evolved cellular component and artificial molecular machinery in the future of medicine and human enhancement. It is already possible to produce programmable DNA machinery that can react to the environment in simple ways, or to adjust the programming of cells by altering the production or activities of specific proteins. As understanding of the cell improves, it will be possible to produce nanoscale structures that act in similar ways to cellular components. Researchers are starting down this road with the production of various forms of manufactory, artificial membranes that enclose anything from cells or bacteria to a minimal set of DNA or other molecular machinery that can produce specific proteins or other molecules in response to circumstances. The articles below look at the two ends of this scale: an entire cell wrapped in a membrane on the one hand, versus much smaller components designed to be taken up and used by cells, releasing molecules in response to internal signals.

programmable DNA machinery

For the future, it is possible to envisage all sorts of further possibilities. Tweaks to existing structures to make them better: enhanced lysosomes equipped with a better range of digestive enzymes, improving the


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