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Life sticks: UC San Diego bioengineer's sticky insights published in journal Science
Date:4/9/2009

propriate mechanical context. The project began when he was approached by a surgeon puzzled by the results he was getting after injecting stem cells into damaged rat heart tissue in hopes of regenerating healthy heart tissue.

"As a matrix biologist and a mechanical engineer I said, 'Perhaps we need to look at what the host tissue is actually doing. What is being damaged and what is changing within the tissue due to the lack of oxygen?'" Engler and his collaborators found the cells in the damaged heart tissue were excreting collagen and making stiff scar tissue. "The engineer in me then analyzed the mechanical properties of the tissue and found out it was three to four times more rigid than the background healthy muscle. The biologist in me then characterized the cells in vitro and was able to show that these cells do respond to the mechanical properties of their environment."

Engler published his findings in 2006 in the high profile journal Cell and in the American Journal of Physiology. (Read New Scientist's description of Engler's findings.) One idea for improving such cell-based therapies, according to Engler, could involve injecting "smarter stem cells" that have been programmed to respond to some environmental stimuli but ignore other stimuli.


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Contact: Daniel Kane
dbkane@ucsd.edu
858-534-3262
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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Life sticks: UC San Diego bioengineer's sticky insights published in journal Science
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