Although the engineers came up with a design, it will still be some time before the artificial cells are actually built. For one thing, they still need a power source before they could start producing electricity. LaVan speculates the cells could be powered in a way similar to their natural counterparts. It's possible, he said, that bacteria could be employed to recycle ATP responsible for transferring energy within the cell using glucose, a common source of chemical energy derived from food.
With an energy source in place, the artificial cells could one day power medical implants and would provide a big advantage over battery-operated devices. "If it breaks, there are no toxins released into your system," said Xu. "It would be just like any other cell in your body."
|Contact: Suzanne Taylor Muzzin|