June 23, 2009

Cellular forces studied in tissue creation

A University of Pennsylvania-led study has measured the cellular physical forces generated by individual cells during tissue development.

The bioengineers said they created a tiny micron-sized device that allows researchers to measure and manipulate cellular forces as assemblies of living cells reorganize themselves into tissues.

The scientists said their new micro-tool allows them to gauge how cells' minute mechanical forces affect cellular behavior, protein deposition and cell differentiation in a three-dimensional, in vivo-like environment that mimics how tissue actually forms in a living organism.

The researchers said their findings have implications for the testing of irregular or diseased tissue, such as beating cardiac tissue, which can be modeled and studied.

The study that included Professor Chris Chen, Wesley Legant and Michael Yang at Penn; Amit Pathak and Robert McMeeking of UCSB; and Vikram Deshpande of the University of Cambridge appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.