Mechanical Cell-Manipulation Could Be Key To Cell Regeneration

Restoring damaged cells in the body may be a lot easier thanks to a mechanical cell manipulation technique developed by researchers in England.

New mechanical cell-manipulation technique could provide pathways into fixing disorders — even cancer

The signs have been there all along when it comes to using mechanical stimulation to stimulate regeneration and growth of tissue by simply pulling or pushing on cells….

How that mechanical stimulation can take place, though, has recently reached a whole new level, as evidenced by the recent academic paper published in the journal Science Robotics in which a team of researchers was able to fasten a small robot that gently tugged on the esophagus of a pig for nine days. The result? The pig’s esophagus expanded by 10 millimeters.

“It does look like mechanical tension is a powerful driving force on the physiology of the tissue,” says Dana Damian, a lecturer in automatic control and systems engineering at the University of Sheffield in England, and lead author on the paper. “And this signal that cells receive for this mechanical stimulation can regulate the [shape] of the cell.”

…..“We’ve long appreciated that physical forces regulate a lot of biology,” says David Mooney, a professor of bioengineering at Harvard University who has spent years conducting research in this field. “If you think about it, the cells in our bodies live in a very physical world. We walk around and gravity’s always pulling on our tissues. There’s blood flow through her heart and the vessels. So it makes sense that the cells would respond to these environmental signals and alter how they grow, they how they die and how they specialize in what kinds of functions that they might have.

“But what’s really new here is now the extension of a lot of this basic knowledge into the ability to now apply defined mechanical signals and to try to drive regeneration and growth of new tissues.”

 

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