Biomaterials and Nanotechnology for Drug and Vaccine Development
B.S. University of California, Berkeley (Biomedical Engineering)
Ph.D. University of California, San Diego (Bioengineering)
An emerging cellular engineering method creates synthetic polymer matrices inside cells. By contrast with classical genetic, enzymatic, or radioactive techniques, this materials-based approach introduces non-natural polymers inside cells, thus modifying cellular states and functionalities. Here, we cover various materials and chemistries that have been exploited to create intracellular polymer matrices. In addition, we discuss emergent cellular properties due to the intracellular polymerization, including nonreplicating but active metabolism, maintenance of membrane integrity, and resistance to environmental stressors. We also discuss past work and future opportunities for developing and applying synthetic cells that contain intracellular polymers. The materials-based approach will usher in new applications of synthetic cells for broad biotechnological applications.