New Directions for Artificial Cells Using Prototyped Biosystems

Anal Chem. 2019 Apr 16;91(8):4921-4928. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b04885. Epub 2019 Mar 26.


Microfluidics has has enabled the generation of a range of single compartment and multicompartment vesicles and bilayer-delineated droplets that can be assembled in 2D and 3D. These model systems are becoming increasingly used as artificial cell chassis and as biomimetic constructs for assembling tissue models, engineering therapeutic delivery systems, and screening drugs. One bottleneck in developing this technology is the time, expertise, and equipment required for device fabrication. This has led to interest across the microfluidics community in using rapid prototyping to engineer microfluidic devices from computer-aided-design (CAD) drawings. We highlight how this rapid-prototyping revolution is transforming the fabrication of microfluidic devices for artificial cell construction in bottom-up synthetic biology. We provide an outline of the current landscape and present how advances in the field may give rise to the next generation of multifunctional biodevices, particularly with Industry 4.0 on the horizon. Successfully developing this technology and making it open-source could pave the way for a new generation of citizen-led science, fueling the possibility that the next multibillion-dollar start-up could emerge from an attic or a basement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Cells*
  • Engineering
  • Humans
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices