Molecular Engineering – The ability to adjust the properties of materials through the intentional modification of individual molecules is fascinating – and a reality. What sounds like science fiction has already arrived in our everyday lives. Whether in the production of antimicrobial surfaces using antibacterial peptides or silver nanoparticles, the development of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), or the optimization of cosmetics using small molecules to improve mechanical properties, molecular engineering has a broad range of applications. In the field of 3R research, molecular engineering plays a significant role as well. For example, the molecular structure of drugs and vaccines can be selectively modified to adapt the mechanism of action, thereby increasing efficacy and reducing side effects, which can benefit a reduction in animal numbers in preclinical studies.
At the cellular level, molecular engineering is essential for the establishment of disease models and has become more widespread with the establishment of the “gene scissor” CRISPR/Cas. The CRISPR/Cas system allows for efficient modification of the genomes of organisms and offers the opportunity to create cellular disease models by inducing pathological conditions. With the continuously increasing modification efficiency of molecular biology methods, even complex systems such as organoids can now be modified, allowing not only the induction of diseases but also the examination of the effects of pathological conditions in a complex cellular environment. Such complex disease models can be used to investigate disease progression at the cellular level, as well as possible therapies. Therefore, disease models based on genomic modifications are an important component for reducing animal experiments.