Scientists create a functional model of the extracellular matrix

Dec 20, 2011

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have created a functional model of the native extracellular matrix that provides structural support to cells to aid growth and proliferation. The model 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 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.

Max Ryadnov, the lead researcher at NPL, said: "The extracellular matrix is a cellular "scaffolding", which provides necessary signalling environment for cell growth and development into tissues and can help to heal wounds and other damaged tissues. Therefore, extracellular mimetics such as one developed by NPL could be useful for the progress of regenerative medicine."

Explore further: Producing biodegradable plastic just got cheaper and greener

More information: The full research was published recently in Angewandte Chemie. It is available here: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201104647/abstract

Related Stories

The extracellular matrix

Dec 12, 2011

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.

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 ...

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, ...

Recommended for you

Aluminum clusters shut down molecular fuel factory

Jul 06, 2015

Despite decades of industrial use, the exact chemical transformations occurring within zeolites, a common material used in the conversion of oil to gasoline, remain poorly understood. Now scientists have ...

New catalyst does more with less platinum

Jul 06, 2015

Platinum is a highly reactive and in-demand catalyst across the chemical and energy industries, but a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Georgia Institute of Technology scientists could reduce the ...

Learning from biology to accelerate discovery

Jul 06, 2015

A spider's web is one of the most intricate constructions in nature, but its precious silk has more than one use. Silk threads can be used as draglines, guidelines, anchors, pheromonal trails, nest lining, ...

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.