BPoD has moved!

BPoD has recently changed our domain name - we can now be found at bpod.org.uk

Please update your bookmarks!

Now in our 12th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images


Studying programmable chain reactions in synthetic cell-like structures

04 February 2020


If the chemicals in our cells were to suddenly slosh together, life’s careful processes would be lost in uncontrolled – and probably explosive – chaos. Instead, we rely on membranes – biological barriers that bound cells and the tiny organelles inside, allowing these miniature compartments to mix their contents only when the time is right. Similar mechanics lie behind patterns of nerve signals, our blood circulation and metabolism. This artificial compartment pictured is full of thousands of tiny round protocells, each surrounded by an artificial membrane and packed with chemicals. By filling groups of protocells with different chemicals, researchers experiment with programmable chain reactions, where synthetic enzymes, known as synzymes, trigger reactions. Working in a way similar to chemical pathways inside living cells, perhaps they will inspire new means of guiding the release of drugs into our cells and tissues.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.