The New Age of Cell-Free Biology

Vincent Noireaux, Allen P. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The cell-free molecular synthesis of biochemical systems is a rapidly growing field of research. Advances in the Human Genome Project, DNA synthesis, and other technologies have allowed the in vitro construction of biochemical systems, termed cell-free biology, to emerge as an exciting domain of bioengineering. Cell-free biology ranges from the molecular to the cell-population scales, using an ever-expanding variety of experimental platforms and toolboxes. In this review, we discuss the ongoing efforts undertaken in the three major classes of cell-free biology methodologies, namely protein-based, nucleic acids-based, and cell-free transcription-translation systems, and provide our perspectives on the current challenges as well as the major goals in each of the subfields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-77
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Biomedical Engineering
StatePublished - Jun 4 2020

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  • Bottom-up synthetic biology
  • cell-free transcription-translation
  • self-assembly
  • synthetic cell


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