Designing Artificial Cells towards a New Generation of Biosensors

Margrethe A. Boyd, Neha P. Kamat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The combination of biological and synthetic materials has great potential to generate new types of biosensors. Toward this goal, recent advances in artificial cell development have demonstrated the capacity to detect a variety of analytes and environmental changes by encapsulating genetically encoded sensors within bilayer membranes, expanding the contexts within which biologically based sensing can operate. This chassis not only acts as a container for cell-free sensors, but can also play an active role in artificial cell sensing by serving as an additional gate mediating the transfer of environmental information. Here, we focus on recent progress toward stimuli-responsive artificial cells and discuss strategies for membrane functionalization in order to expand cell-free biosensing capabilities and applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTrends in biotechnology
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • artificial cell
  • biosensing
  • membrane
  • synthetic biology
  • synthetic cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering

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