Publication: New methodology for characterization of cell-free genetic networks enables forward engineering

Forward engineering of (cell-free) genetic networks is one of the main goals in the field of synthetic biology. However, despite the vast library of available building blocks for the assembly of these networks, identifying the reaction kinetics to make these building blocks modular for forward engineering remains elusive. In our latest work we established an automated pipeline to produce high-quality time-resolved data through a combination of optimal experimental design, microfluidics and non-linear model identification. We apply this pipeline and progress through a design, characterize test cycle and demonstrate the modularity and predictability of the characterized building blocks in new network configurations. The methodology described in this paper has the potential to enable forward engineering of cell-free genetic networks.

You can find the article here:

Congratulations Bob, Roel, Wilhelm and collaborators!

Publication: Chemical reaction self-organization offers new insights into the Origin of Life

Four billion years ago, Life emerged from the prebiotic environment. We know many building blocks required for Life may have been present at this point. However, Life is more than the sum of its components. These collections of chemical building blocks had to work together to create Life using only information from their environment and their reactivity. Understanding this phenomenon, ‘self-organization’,is a key piece of the puzzle in understanding the Origin of Life. Our latest work published in Nature Chemistry offers a first glimpse of how patterns in chemical reactivity and the environment can come together to organise systems of chemical reactions.

You can read our work here:
(public view-only version:

Congratulations Will, Lena, Peer, Thijs and Wilhelm!

New paper on A Bayesian Approach to Extracting Kinetic Information from Artificial Enzymatic Networks

We are very excited to share our new paper on Analytical Chemistry entitled “A Bayesian Approach to Extracting Kinetic Information from Artificial Enzymatic Networks”. In this paper authors demonstrate how a Bayesian approach takes into account experimental and modelling uncertainties of enzymatic reaction networks to improve estimations of kinetic parameters.

Congratulations to Mathieu Baltussen, Jeroen van de Wiel, Cristina Lía Fernández Regueiro, Miglė Jakštaitė and Wilhelm Huck!

The paper can be found here:

New paper on a Phosphorylating System for the Origins of Life

At the Origins of Life, the transfer of scarce phosphate to the organic molecules that make up biochemistry is a significant challenge for prebiotic chemistry. Here we show a prebiotic physicochemical cycle to activate orthophosphate and via a kinetically stable thermodynamically activated molecule phosphorylate all of Life’s basic building blocks. Excitingly, this system is constructed along the same principles by which Life transfers phosphate within cells. We are very grateful to the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life for supporting this research.


The paper is here:


You can read a summary of the paper here:

New paper in Science Advances: Tiny droplets detect sugar eating cells and speed up cancer prognosis

Very excited to share our latest publication that was accepted in Science Advances!

We developed a droplet-based microfluidic platform for the detection and isolation of circulating stromal cells and circulating tumor cells (CTCs). We demonstrate that the level of metabolic activity of circulating stromal cells is prognostic and a promising biomarker.
Congratulations to Francesca, Kinga, Aigars and Wilhlem!

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Novel concept for self-organization emerging from simple chemical building blocks

New paper was accepted for publication in Nature Communications!
A fascinating feature of living matter is how interactions at the molecular scale are translated into the spontaneous formation of complex architectures. The research study has been executed within the Gravitation program Functional Molecular Systems (FMS). Congrats!  

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