Pier Luigi Luisi Synthetic Biology Lab
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Past Projects

Self-Assembly, Self-Organization And Self-Reproduction Of Surfactant Aggregates
Can reverse micelle populations grow autocatalytically? Can such processes be described as autopoietic? Do self-assembly and self-reproduction occur spontaneously? Is it possible to create a theoretical model of such phenomena?

Regulation Of Size Distribution; Growth And Fusion Processes Of Liposomes; The Matrix Effect
What happens when fresh surfactant is added to a vesicle population that already has a characteristic size distribution? Upon uptake of the surfactant do the vesicles grow or divide? What is the final size distribution? Is there experimental evidence for fission? Can a given vesicle size distribution be modified by the addition of external agents?

Membrane-Mediated Polymerization Of Hydrophobic Amino Acids: Homochirality In Polypeptides
Can the polycondensation of amino acids or peptides take place on the bilayer surface of liposomes? Can this bring about a selection of the polypeptide products? When racemic amino acids are polymerized, what is the distribution of chiral centres in the products? Is there spontaneous, preferential homochirality?

Liposomes As Models For Biological Cells: The Minimal Cell Project
Can liposomes be used to reconstruct the formation and evolution of early protocells? Can nucleic acids and enzymes be incorporated in liposomes so as to transform them into minimal cells? What are the minimal necessary structural prerequisites for a semi-synthetic, functional cell? Can giant vesicles be used as models for biological cells. Can they be used as microreactors for protein expression? Are their properties different from those of conventional liposomes?

Liposomes As Vesicles For Drug Delivery
Can a new generation of liposomes for use in drug delivery be designed? Can liposome-bound drugs be prepared by the simple injection method?

The Biogenesis Of Specific Polypeptide Sequences
How were the few proteins that occur in nature selected from the astronomical number of possibilities? Can the selection principles that might have operated in the origin of life be reproduced in the laboratory?

See also History of the research in the Luisi Lab

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