What is it about?
Synthetic biology has rapidly expanded as a promising research field, focusing on designing novel, sophisticated biological systems. The development of synthetic cells, engineered particles inspired by the properties and structure of living cells, is noticed as one of the field’s primary goals. In addition to their use as simplified cell models for investigating cellular functions and the origin of life, synthetic cells have gained attention for their potential use in biomedical applications. Under this vision, synthetic cells, engineered to perform a specific action from scratch, can be used to support various processes within the body. Synthetic cells have been demonstrated to trigger different cellular processes by their autonomous chemical interactions with natural cells. Yet, they have not been studied for their ability to induce multi-stage physiological processes in the dynamic environment of living tissue. In this study, we exploited genetic engineering tools to encode and design synthetic cells that produce pro-angiogenic growth factors and promote blood vessel formation under physiological conditions. By this, we demonstrated that synthetic cells can be mobilized to support a highly regulated physiological process of tissue regeneration within the body.
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Why is it important?
As therapeutic compartments, synthetic cells can provide unique advantages that living cells and passive drug delivery systems cannot match. Their full engineerability, the versatility of sophisticated designs, and controllability are only a few. Integrating synthetic cells with live cells and tissues is essential for testing their potential use as autonomous, dynamic micro-machines for drug delivery and artificial cell replacement. Our study precedentially explored the integration of regenerative, protein-producing synthetic cells and their function within the body. Our results emphasize the potential and limitations of synthetic cells as therapeutic platforms for activating physiological processes by autonomously producing biological drugs inside the body.
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This page is a summary of: Implanted synthetic cells trigger tissue angiogenesis through de novo production of recombinant growth factors, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2207525119.
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