Mechanobiology: Understanding the Mechanics of Cells

Photo: Cells

Understanding the behaviour of cells offers an opportunity for halting disease mechanisms; © panther- Klausen

University of Southampton researchers are at the forefront of research into mechanobiology, an emerging field of science combining biology and engineering, which investigates the influence of mechanical forces on cellular and molecular processes.

Mechanobiology has a large potential to bring new insights into physiological function, aetiology (the study of the causes of diseases) and prevention of chronic diseases including heart failure, cancer, osteoporosis and neuromuscular disorders. It could also contribute to the development of effective regenerative therapies and ultimately, lead to innovations in biomedicine and biotechnology in the coming years.

Cells reside in mechanically rich and dynamic microenvironments and the complex relationship between mechanics and biology provide cells with the ability to sense and respond to this microenvironment.

Understanding the behaviour of cells from a mechanical viewpoint and the relationship between mechanical deformation and biological response offers an opportunity for halting disease mechanisms, differentiating stem cells and remodelling of engineered and regenerated tissues.

Southampton researchers are conducting computational research into cell mechanics and mechanobiology, which is providing new insights not previously available.

Dr. Georges Limbert, from the national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS), is conducting research that focusses on the modelling of the mechanobiology of biological soft tissues and the physical behaviour of biomaterials. Limbert says: "The multidisciplinary combination of computational simulation and experimental approaches allows exploring phenomena in cell mechanics that are not easily accessible with experimental methods alone. This also offers the potential to accelerate the development of practical solutions in regenerative medicine."; Source: University of Southampton