Scientists Aim to Create Reproducing Inorganic Cells
University of Glasgow professor Lee Cronin has published new work in creating lifelike cells from inorganic materials. The cells, called inorganic-chemical-cells or iCHELLS, are rudimentary compared to the myriad of life that is the result of millions of years of evolution. However, considering that they are manmade and composed of materials not associated with life on this planet is a major accomplishment.
The iCHELLS can be nested together, and allow chemicals to pass through their walls. This would allow certain chemical processes to be compartmentalized, as they are in biological cells. The cells are modeled off our current understanding of how life began on this planet, and as they progress could help scientists fill in the historical gaps in the story of all life on Earth.
Beyond the theoretical value of the iCHELLS, researchers believe that they might have practical applications as well.The cells can store electricity, perhaps making them viable power sources. Their multi-layered structure could also be utilized for running chemical reaction separate from the world around them. One wonders about these two attributes being used in advanced medical equipments, like medicine delivery inside the body or as advanced sensors.
While still a long way off, the end goal is to have much more complex iCHELLS that can replicate, evolve, and sustain themselves. While such an auspicious goal may be theoretically possible, we’ll have to wait and see if Professor Cronin and others like him are able to pull it off.
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