Application potential of future artificial cells
Functional macromolecules (proteins,
enzymes, polynucleotides) as well as molecular assemblies (membranes,
fibers, molecular actuators and motors) are designed by evolution to
function optionally on the nanometer scale.
Nature's design principles are already
being used as a guide in making rational molecular drug design, smart
and intelligent liposome-based drug delivery and cancer therapy,
gene delivery and gene repair, functionalized surfaces and sensors for
biological and chemical recognition, biologically inspired computer
technology, nano-wires and -networks, nanofluidic pumps and valves etc.
A particularly compelling technological direction is that of
functional, responsive and evolvable artificial cells some of which
have been conceived and developed at initial stage within the PACE
project. These future cells, once fully developed, will constitute a
truly smart living nanotechnology, characterized by self-replication,
self-repair, adaptation, autonomy, robustness and local intelligence -
all desirable properties that our current technology lacks.