'Protein factories' created | HT Tech

'Protein factories' created

Researchers in New York have created primitive cells similar to bacteria that can churn out proteins for days and could prove to be a boon for drug production.

By: PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
| Updated on: Dec 08 2004, 19:34 IST

Researchers in New York have created primitive cells similar to bacteria that can churn out proteins for days and could prove to be a boon for drug production.

These synthetic cells are not truly alive as they cannot replicate or evolve. But they can churn out proteins for days, and could be useful for drug production, as well as advancing the quest to build artificial life from scratch, Nature magazine reported in its recent issue.

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Vincent Noireaux and Albert Libchaber of the Rockefeller University in New York have managed to package some of the molecular machinery of a cell inside an artificial, bacterium-sized membrane. This can perforate the membrane with holes that allow nutrients and energy-rich molecules to get into the cells from the surroundings, the report said.

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These protocells contain all the machinery needed to generate proteins from their raw ingredients (amino acids), so they could be used as miniature factories, to produce proteins of industrial and medical value.

Such proteins, for example, insulin, are routinely produced by genetically engineered bacteria bred in fermentation vats. But artificial cells would make much simpler protein factories, perhaps more easily tailored to make specific products.

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First Published Date: 07 Dec, 13:21 IST
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