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Building artificial cells from scratch

Scientists have created artificial cells that can live and produce proteins as their natural counterparts do, but can't replicate. Besides providing a new tool for studying the biochemical processes that take place inside real cells, these synthetic structures could be enlisted to churn out pharmaceuticals, says Albert Libchaber of Rockefeller University in New York. This advance also brings researchers closer to creating entirely synthetic organisms with artificial chromosomes, he says.

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