The extracellular matrix

Dec 12, 2011
Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) image of the designed extracellular matrix

NPL scientists have created a functional model of the native extracellular matrix which provides structural support to cells to aid growth and proliferation and could lead to advances in regenerative medicine.

The extracellular matrix (ECM) provides the physical and chemical conditions that enable the development of all . It is a complex nano-to-microscale structure made up of protein fibres and serves as a dynamic substrate that supports tissue repair and regeneration.

Man-made structures designed to mimic and replace the native matrix in damaged or diseased tissues are highly sought after to advance our understanding of tissue organisation and to make regenerative medicine a reality.

Self-assembling peptide fibres that have similar properties to those of the native matrices are of particular interest. However, these near-crystalline fail to arrange themselves into interconnected meshes at the , which is critical for bringing cells together and supporting .

To solve this problem, a research team at NPL designed a small protein consisting of two complementary domains (structural units) that promote the formation of highly branched networks of fibres that span microscopic dimensions. The team showed that the created matrix is very efficient in supporting cell attachment, growth and proliferation.

Explore further: Plausibility of the vibrational theory of smell

Related Stories

Hydrogels provide scaffolding for growth of bone cells

Aug 17, 2008

Hyaluronic hydrogels developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers may provide a suitable scaffolding to enable bone regeneration. The hydrogels, created by Newell Washburn, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski and Jeffrey Hollinger, ...

Coming Soon: Blood Vessels from a Test Tube?

Jun 04, 2007

Our tissues and organs consist of a complex, closely balanced assembly of different types of cells, extracellular matrix, and special signal-carrying molecules. The growth of such structures in the laboratory, perhaps for ...

Recommended for you

Plausibility of the vibrational theory of smell

9 hours ago

The vibrational theory of olfaction explains several aspects of odorant detection that theories based purely on receptor binding do not. It provides for additional selectivity through receptors that are tuned ...

Electron transfer challenges common fluorescence technique

9 hours ago

Tryptophan is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of proteins. It is used extensively to study how proteins change their 3D structure, and also how they interact with other proteins and molecules. This is studied with ...

Sugar structure: Not as sweet as it seems

16 hours ago

Scientists at the University of York have identified problems with nearly half of the structural data on carbohydrate molecules available to the scientific community.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.