The University of Southampton
Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and RegenerationResearch themes

Mechanics in tissue development and regeneration

The stiffness of substrates affects how quickly cells divide - dividing cells marker in green
Cell division

 During development and after injury, tissues rapidly change in size, shape, composition, and in their mechanical characteristics. Cells within these tissues - which are of course responsible for making these tissues in the first place - are exposed to a variety of forces, including tension, compression and shear, as well as the static mechanical properties of the materials they grow on ('extracellular matrix'). It's now widely appreciated that cells can feel and respond to these forces by moving, growing and differentiating.

We are interested in finding out how the mechanical characteristics of the growth environment direct stem cells how to behave, for example in the earliest stages of differentiation in the developing embryo, in cancer progression, and in processes involved in wound healing and tissue regeneration. We hope that our results might give us a better understanding of how to promote improved regeneration and healing following injury.

Our project integrates expertise in stem cell biology, developmental biology, wound healing models and materials biomechanics, and involves multidisciplinary collaborations between physical scientists, biologists and clinicians.

We're investigating how topography affects epithelial stem cells; for instance in the skin
Substrate topography

 

People

Nick Evans, Philipp Thurner, Richard Oreffo, Franchesca Houghton, Georges Limbert, Paul Martin (Bristol University)

 

Publications

Ji, L., Lapointe, V. Ls., Evans, N.D. and Stevens, M.M. (2012) Changes in embryonic stem cell colony morphology and early differentiation markers driven by colloidal crystal topographical cues. European Cells and Materials, 23, 135-146. (PMID:22370796).

Evans, Nicholas D., Gentleman, Eileen, Chen, Xinyong, Roberts, Clive J., Polak, Julia M. and Stevens, Molly M. (2010) Extracellular matrix-mediated osteogenic differentiation of murine embryonic stem cells.Biomaterials, 31, (12), 3244-3252. (doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.01.039). (PMID:20149448).

Evans, Nicholas D., Minelli, Caterina, Gentleman, Eileen, LaPointe, Vanessa, Patankar, Sameer N.,Kallivretaki, Maria, Chen, Xinyong, Roberts, Clive J. and Stevens, Molly M. (2009) Substrate stiffness affects early differentiation events in embryonic stem cells. European cells and materials, 18, 1-14.(PMID:19768669).

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