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By providing new information about the role of communication among cells, the research could lead to a better understanding of how multicellular organoids form from colonies of independent cells. The information could lead to new methods for controlling how multicellular constructs develop, and that could have applications in regenerative medicine, pharmaceutical testing and other research areas.
The research resulted from collaboration between the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Gladstone Institutes, and was reported October 5 in the journal Nature Communications. The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems Science and Technology Center (EBICS) supported the research.
Goal - System - Cells - Tissues - Phenotypes
"The goal is to control a system of cells like this to direct tissues to take on different phenotypes, to develop into different complex mixtures, and to self-assemble and emerge into very complicated structures," said Melissa Kemp, an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. "For developing tissues that could be used as surrogates for screening drugs or as eventual implants for therapeutic purposes, we need to how to control and direct them properly."
Scientists believe that the patterning of stem cell differentiation affects what kinds of cells will ultimately emerge from the differentiation process.
Importance - Cell-to-cell - Interactions - Systems - System
Despite the importance of local cell-to-cell interactions in evolving multicellular systems, little has been known about how the overall system regulates its morphological processes. To learn more about this, the paper's first author, Chad Glen, studied how communication between adjacent cells informs the fate of those cells. Beyond understanding this communication, Glen discovered a potential mechanism for "braking" the rate of differentiation without affecting the overall patterning of the resulting multicellular tissue.
"The amount of coordination among cells that are tightly coupled gives us an idea about how they work as a group," said Todd McDevitt, senior investigator at the...
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