Which criteria does a synthetically created cell have to meet to be considered alive? What are the minimal requirements for individual functions of such a cell? Questions like these drive Petra Schwille and her team at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry. Now the scientists have shown that it only takes five biological building blocks to generate cell-like structures that exhibit autonomous motion while consuming energy. The discovery of these pulsating, beating vesicles came as a surprise, since initially the scientists wanted to investigate processes related to cell division. The study was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.