Elmer’s Cells

Ouch, a paper cut! Can you fix that with a little… glue?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Our skin does a marvelous job of putting itself back together after an ouchie. When our skin cells regenerate, they have “glue molecules” that help them rejoin. But NOT ALL cells can do this. How can we paste those back together?

Adam Stevens and team at U-C San Francisco had an idea.

They designed NEW glue molecules by altering cells. Each molecule has two parts: one inside the cell and one outside. The first determines the strength of the bond that forms between the cells. The second determines which cell types it interacts with. These pieces are mixed and matched for different needs. Kinda like Legos!

So if cells can’t regenerate, we can glue NEW ones on instead! The researchers envision this will also be used to model diseases and build organs!

Sounds like a project worth STICKING with!
(But not for children under 3…)


Stevens, A. J.; Harris, A. R.; Gerdts, J.; Kim, K. H.; Trentesaux, C.; Ramirez, J. T.; McKeithan, W. L.; Fattahi, F.; Klein, O. D.; Fletcher, D. A.; Lim, W. A. Programming Multicellular Assembly with Synthetic Cell Adhesion Molecules. Nature 2022