Scientists from Taiwan and California have unveiled Cyborg Cells, a natural-artificial hybrid.
By combining natural cells with synthetic cells, you get the best of both worlds.
The new cell type could help fight disease, even cancer.
Building a better human cell prompted a group of researchers from Taiwan and California to create a “cyborg cell.” Think of it as the best of both worlds – a hybrid cell that combines the benefits of natural and synthetic cells. The scientists believe their research could potentially help ward off or treat disease.
In a study published by Advanced Science, the team from Academia Sinica in Taiwan and the University of California, Davis write that natural cells can perform complex tasks, but the fact that they replicate can raise safety concerns in biomedical applications. On the other hand, an artificial cell can ensure non-replicating materials in a defined and controllable function, but lacks the biochemical complexity sometimes required.
More from the study:
“Here, for the first time, the authors create hybrid material-cell units called cyborg cells. To create cyborg cells, a synthetic polymer network was built inside bacterial cells, rendering them unable to divide. These newly engineered cells can retain essential functions of a natural cell and “acquire new abilities to withstand stressors that otherwise kill natural cells.”
The authors say their work shows how the “combination of synthetic materials and natural cells can create semi-living entities with hybrid properties and new capabilities.” They believe they have opened the door to further studies on cell division and the interface between intracellular hydrogels and biomolecules, which could lead to new applications such as antibacterial treatment or even cancer therapy. Efforts to fight disease could benefit from cyborg cells because the new cell’s stress-resistant properties allow them “to function robustly in certain natural environments,” the scientists say.
“We envision our cyborg cells becoming a new class of synthetic therapy delivery systems,” they write.
Cyborg cells to the rescue? (popular Mechanics)