About this Research Topic
Biological membranes retain their unique features throughout the life cycles of cells. Their lipid bilayers act as barriers, compartmentalize distinct reaction volumes within cells, encapsulate cargo, and harbor a myriad of lipid species and integral membrane-proteins. Scientists and engineers strive to tame the delicate lipid environment of membranes to tap into its rich biology and to exploit its unequalled features for biotechnological and therapeutic applications. Engineering approaches can be roughly divided into top-down, bottom-up or hybrid synthetic systems. This depends on whether an existing biological system is altered, built up from its building blocks, or whether a complex cell-derived membrane is diversified with synthetic components.
In vitro, membranes are tailored to study the structure and function of membrane-associated processes, or are engineered to encapsulate therapeutics for drug delivery in vesicles or bio-inspired liposomal carriers. On the level of living cells, lipid metabolism and protein expression is manipulated to alter the lipid and protein composition of the plasma membrane to either achieve favorable behavior in biotechnological fermentation, to present specific surface features for drug screening or bio-sensing, or even to produce vesicles for drug delivery.
This Research Topic aims to highlight engineering concepts and challenges when dealing with the delicate nature of the lipid bilayer, as well as future directions in this rapidly growing field.
Keywords: biological membranes, bioengineering, lipid bilayer, drug delivery
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