Researchers have developed artificial cell-like structures using inorganic matter that autonomously ingest, process, and push out material—recreating an essential function of living cells. Their article, published in Nature, provides a blueprint for creating “cell mimics,” with potential applications ranging from drug delivery to environmental science. A fundamental function of living cells is their ability to harvest energy from the environment to pump molecules in and out of their systems. When energy is used to move these molecules from areas of lower concentration to areas of higher concentration, the process is called active transport. Active transport allows cells to take in necessary molecules like glucose or amino acids, store energy, and extract waste. For decades, researchers have been working to create artificial cells—engineered microscopic structures that emulate the features and behavior of biological cells. But these cell mimics tend to lack the ability to perform complex cellular processes like active transport.
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