A clever little paper just came out as an Advance Online Publication in Nature Chemistry (Self-reproduction of supramolecular giant vesicles combined with the amplification of encapsulated DNA). Tadashi Sugawara from the University of Tokyo shows in this work that when you fabricate a vesicle containing an amphiphilic imidazolium catalyst, you can actually cause the vesicle to self-replicate when a membrane precursor is placed in solution. Furthermore, the vesicle can be used to encapsulate DNA and PCR reagents, thereby creating self-replicating vesicles that contain replicated DNA. Perhaps the coolest thing about this from a “biosimilar” point of view is that the giant vesicle division is accelerated by the encapsulation of DNA within the vesicle membrane. Thus, only the DNA containing vesicles are actually capable of rapid division and replication. The similarity of this work to actual “synthetic cell” fabrication makes me think that the popular press could have a field day with this…stay tuned.

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