Creating an assembly line to make uniform cell-like structures

Summary:Automating cell membranes via a new manufacturing process could transform the way biological structures are made from scratch.

Brian Paegel might make it a lot easier for biologists and chemists to do their research.

Normally when cells are fiddled with in the laboratory, it's the graduate students who have to do all the manual labor of adding proteins or genes. A computer could soon replace them.

Paegel, a scientist at Scripps Research Institute, figured out a way to automate the production of cell-like compartments.

Until now, there's been no quality control. Paegel built a microscopic assembly line that can pump out uniform, artificial cell-like structures. The resulting circuit is about the size of a poker chip, and the cell-like structures are about the size of a human hair.

The cell-like compartments could help manufacture new types of drugs. Where manufacturing meets biology, it will be interesting to see if this process can help automate the production of biological materials.

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech,, and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado... Full Bio

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