Summer Student Domonkos Perenyi
Supervised by Dr Matthew Kitching at Durham University, Domonkos Perenyi is using artificial cell mimics to replace the use of egg yolk in understanding how cell membranes move.
Understanding the processes that cause the motion of tiny droplets – called vesicles – is fundamental to our understanding of how the membranes that make up our cells work. These droplets are composed of phospholipids, which are currently sourced from modified animal-based products, such as egg yolks, to study the molecular motion in cells. In his research project, Domonkos replaced these lipids with non-animal synthetic equivalents and plant-based materials, such as soybeans.
His research has potentially contributed to the process of making entirely artificial cells, which could completely avoid the use of animals in fundamental cell research. As well as informing our understanding of essential-for-life biological membranes – the walls that form the compartments inside every cell – Domonkos’ research may also provide new ways to direct the delivery of drug compounds in cells.
My project gave me an understanding of how the use of animals can be avoided entirely, by learning how to manipulate the motion and interactions of cell components using non-animal products. By removing animal based products from our protocols, I ensured that we developed ethically sound research techniques for ourselves and others to use in the future.