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Tiny, soapy bubbles can reorganize their membranes to let material flow in and out in response to the surrounding environment, according to new work carried out in an international collaboration by biomedical engineers at the University of California, Davis, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. This behavior could be exploited in creating microbubbles that deliver drugs or other payloads inside the body — and could help us understand how the very first living cells on Earth might have survived billions of years ago.

The study, led by Atul Parikh, professor of biomedical engineering, and chemical engineering and materials science, was published Oct. 15 in the journal eLife.

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