European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Artificial Cells with Distributed Cores to Decipher Protein Function

Project description

Mimicking living systems at the microscale

Living systems such as tissues, organs and organelles undertake specific biological processes within compartments to achieve greater efficiency. Being able to recapitulate this functional confinement artificially would open up novel possibilities for technological advancement in the biomedical field. The EU-funded ACDC project will take advantage of lab-on-a-chip technology and microfluidics to develop a functional platform that can be programmed and reconfigured for theranostics or environmental applications. The generation of responsive architectures will follow the hierarchy of living systems, and the resultant capsules will be able to inter-communicate like micro-laboratories, carrying out biochemical or chemical reactions.


We envision a future where ‘chemical apps’ on mobile devices produce on demand valuable compounds for health and performance as well as apps for bioagent threat detection and disease. To take concrete and defined steps toward this future vision, we will exploit the miniaturization provided by lab on a chip technology and construct responsive architectures and metabolism based on living cells and tissues. We will build programmable and re-configurable, (bio)chemical processes, with precision, order, and as hierarchical cellular constructs, in the same way as living systems. We will enable microscale, liquid-based, chemical compartmentalisation (cores), and inter-compartmental (core-core) communication, just as one finds in organelles, cells and tissues. ACDC will focus on developing this next generation technology through a detailed workplan that heavily involves the nontrivial tasks of integrating diverse state of the art technologies including microfluidics, microwave resonators, DNA-based supramolecular assembly, in vitro gene expression and the integration of membrane channels into a functional platform. In a future embodiment of this project, artificial cell technology will be used as programmable and reconfigurable matter for specific applications, including theranostics and personalized medicine as well as sensing and actuation in the environments for bioremediation.
As the first steps towards that future vision, we aim to produce an artificial technological construct and process that recapitulates some aspects of living systems on the microscale, and therefore this project will produce exemplars of secondary living technologies concentrating on the wetware class [1] but also a multi-level mathematical framework. We have assembled an international, interdisciplinary team from academia, industry and public engagement. Our outreach and engagement programme will define the impact in both the public and economic sectors with ethical dimensions considered. Further, building upon 55 years of collective start-up enterprise experience, we will explore the translation of new intellectual property generated into commercial advantage and job creation for the European Union.

Call for proposal


See other projects for this call

Sub call



Net EU contribution
€ 1 198 437,50
38122 Trento

See on map

Nord-Est Provincia Autonoma di Trento Trento
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 198 437,50

Participants (5)