New Mechanism Created for Synthetic Prototissue

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Scientists at University of Bristol developed a synthetic tissue, which is the first chemically programmed and can mimic living cells to produce functions such as beating and chemical detoxification.

A team, led by Professor Stephen Mann FRS and Dr. Pierangelo Gobbo from Bristol’s School of Chemistry, worked together to chemically program artificial synthetic cells, ‘protocells’, that were capable of communicating and interacting with each other in a highly coordinated manner.

The development of chemically programmed synthetic tissue is used to support failing living tissues and cure specific diseases. Previously, the development of synthetic tissue had been a major challenge in the field of synthetic biology. The researchers developed two types of artificial cells with complementary surface anchoring groups and protein-polymer membrane. They poured the sticky mixture of artificial cells into chemically linked clusters to produce self-supporting artificial tissue spheroids. Then, the artificial tissues were assembled to beat-like oscillations in size with the help of a polymer that could expand or contract as the temperature was changed below or above 37 degrees Celsius.

“Our approach to the rational design and fabrication of prototissues bridges an important gap in bottom-up synthetic biology and should also contribute to the development of new bioinspired materials that work at the interface between living tissues and their synthetic counterparts,” said Professor Stephen Mann FRS, Professor of Chemistry at Bristol and lead author of the study.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Materials on October 08, 2018. This discovery will open up new and unexplored avenues in health applications in the near future.

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