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    A team of Penn State researchers has developed a simple artificial cell with which to investigate the organization and function of two of the most basic cell components: the cell membrane and the cytoplasm--the gelatinous fluid that surrounds the structures in living cells. The work could lead to the creation of new drugs that take advantage of properties of cell organization to prevent the development of diseases. The team's findings will be published later this month in the Journal of the American Chemical Society

    "Many scientists are trying to understand cells by turning off genes, one at a time, and are observing the effects on cell function, but we're doing the opposite," said Associate Professor of Chemistry Christine D. Keating, who led the research. "We're starting from scratch, adding in components to find out what is needed to simulate the most basic cell functions. Our goal is to find out how much complexity can be observed in very simple collections of molecules."

    Although Keating and her colleagues plan to continue adding components to their model cell, they don't expect to make a real cell. "We aren't trying to generate life here. Rather, we want to understand the physical principles that govern biological systems," said Keating. "For me the big picture is trying to understand how the staggering complexity observed in biological systems might have arisen from seemingly simple chemical and physical principles."


    Hmm...just because they aren't, doesn't mean someone else won't try (or is trying).