Real News About Fake Cells

“Bouncing, pulsating blobs” created in her lab were a promising step in Petra Schwille’s efforts to build synthetic cells from scratch. The biophysicist and her colleagues are confident that within a decade, the first fully synthetic cells could spring to life.

Advances in microfluidic technologies have enabled researchers to customize the shape of “cell-like blobs,” and build basic versions of cellular metabolism. Uniting all these elements still challenges researchers, and upon their debut fully synthetic living cells are set to raise broader questions: “Will this be a life? … Will we control it?” asks biophysicist Marileen Dogterom of Delft University of Technology.


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