Home SynCell2022 Abstracts for SynCell2022 Abstracts for plenary sessions (Thur)

Abstracts for plenary sessions on Thursday May 19th

Hybrid machines: artificial systems powered by biological units

Samuel Sánchez

Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Spain

One of the dreams in nanotechnology is to engineer small vehicles and machines which can eventually be applied in vivo for medical purposes. In order to do so, we and others engineer artificial self-propelled machines (here called nanobots) with some features similar to biological counterparts. Alike bacteria or small swimmers found in nature, these artificial nanobots convert bio-available fuels to generate propulsion force and swim at the nanoscale.
In order to recapitulate motion and use them for medical applications several challenges should be addressed. First, researchers need to incorporate efficient and bio-friendly propulsion mechanisms and second, use a biocompatible carrier.
In my talk, I will present how we bioengineer hybrid nanobots combining the best from the two worlds: biology (enzymes) and (nano)technology (nano- micro-particles) providing swimming capabilities, biocompatibility, imaging, multifunctionality and actuation. The combination of biological components and artificial ones emerges into what we call hybrid nanobots. Besides the understanding of fundamental aspects (1), and controlling the performance of micro-nanobots (2) I will present proof-of-concept applications of nanobots such as the efficient transport of drugs into cancer cells (3) and 3D spheroids (4), sensing (5) and the use of molecular imaging techniques (PET-CT) for the tracking and localization of swarms of nanobots both in vitro and in vivo in mice bladder (6).

References: (1) Arqué et al. Nat. Commun. 2019. 10, (1) 1-12.; Patino et al. Acc. Chem. Res. 2018, 51, (11) 2662-2671;   (2) Patino et al. J. Am. Chem.Soc. 2018, 140 (25) 7896-7903: Song et al. Nat.Commun. 2021 12 (1), 1-9;  (3) Hortelao et al. Adv. Funct. Mat 2018.

State space approach to cell behaviour and design

Wallace Marshall

University of California San Francisco (UCSF), United States of America

A major challenge for designing cells, either when re-engineering existing cells or building synthetic cells, is to have design tools that can cope with the tremendous molecular complexity of the cell. Cell and molecular biology have revealed a huge number of molecular interactions that underlie cell structure and behavior. How can we know what changes to make, at a molecular level, to achieve a design goal? In both physics and computer science, this type of challenge has been solved by introducing intermediate levels of abstraction, such that the state of a system can be described more compactly without having to specify each of the individual interacting components in a complex system. We describe two approaches for defining an abstract state space for cells, using either morphology or behavior. For a morphological state space, classifying cell state based on imaging data reveals a continuous state space that obeys detailed balance, in which dynamics can be predicted based on a potential function. For behavior state space, the nature of the space seems to depend on the cell type, with some exhibiting continuous spaces and others exhibiting discrete spaces more akin to a finite state machine model.

Cell to cell signalling through light

Seraphine Wegner

University of Münster, Germany

Cell to cell communication determines how cells function as a community and the exchange of soluble chemical signals between cells makes it possible to coordinate the action of individual cells to gives rise to multicellular behavior. In this talk, I will present how principles of intercellular communication are applicable in the context of bottom-up synthetic biology to achieve multicellular behavior in communities of synthetic cells. In particular, I will focus on how we can control the spatiotemporal organization of sender and receiver cells with external light and show that cells can also communicate with each other through light. Using these features, we photoregulate the chemical communication depending on the spatial context of sender and receivers, attract prey cells with glowing predators and have communities that self-regulate their signalling through positive feedback loops. Further, complementary approaches pursued with synthetic and living cells allow translating concepts between different systems and integration into hybrid structures. Overall, these designs provide blueprints for light controlled and light based intercellular communication and opens new possibilities in programing synthetic and natural cell communities.

Exploring cell free lysates from non-model organisms for different applications

Paul S. Freemont

Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Cell-free transcription/translation systems (known as CFPS or TX-TL) have recently been re-evaluated as a promising platform for enabling synthetic biology research and applications including synthetic cell research. In particular CFPS has been shown to provide a reproducible prototyping platform for regulatory elements where measurements in vitro are in part consistent with similar measurements in vivo. The advantage of being non-GMO allows rapid automated assays for characterising parts and genetic circuit designs for pathway engineering, natural product discovery and biosensor designs as well as for synthetic cells. My lab has been interested in exploring cell free extracts from different organisms including mammalian cells and I will present our most recent work on using such extracts for synthetic chemistry and prototyping parts.

Sponsored by: