Cell-free phospholipid biosynthesis

Themes: Chemistry, bio- & process technology

Early lab scale demonstration

A TRL is a measure to indicate the matureness of a developing technology. When an innovative idea is discovered it is often not directly suitable for application. Usually such novel idea is subjected to further experimentation, testing and prototyping before it can be implemented. The image below shows how to read TRL’s to categorise the innovative ideas.

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Lipids are interesting for science & industry (e.g. for cosmetics, drug delivery, emulsifiers). Producing lipids in vitro rather than inside living organisms (in vivo) provides a versatile lipid synthesis platform. This research is key to build a minimalistic cell whose lipid compartment can grow and divide.


Cell-free gene expression is used to synthesize, in a micrometre-sized vesicle, the protein machinery needed to produce important phospholipids from simple precursors.


The proof of concept reconstitution of the phospholipid synthesis machinery has already resulted in a moderate yield. The current aim is to increase this yield by for instance using different precursors and improving molecular transport across the vesicle membrane.

Duco Blanken MSc



Dr. Christophe Danelon