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Thomas E. Angelini, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida and his research group, the Soft Matter Engineering lab have successfully fabricated living micro-beams from glioblastoma cells and extra-cellular material (ECM) embedded in a packed microgel support medium. They subsequently characterized the physical properties of the beams and compared their results against traditional mechanical engineering models. To their surprise, these microscopic, delicate structures behave a lot like the massive beams used in everyday building construction. "We were pleased and excited to see that our micro-beams, only 50 to 200 µm in diameter, acted in accordance with the mechanical principles for other models such as large steel beams," said S. Tori Ellison. Ellison is a Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. student who is mentored by Dr. Angelini and is the co-first author on the published paper that resulted from this research.
To systematically test the variables controlling cell-ECM micro-beam mechanics, the researchers varied cell density, ECM concentration, micro-beam diameter, and the surrounding medium's material properties. They found a cascade of cell-driven behaviors, including beam buckling, break-up, and axial contraction. By modifying classic mechanical theories, they uncovered basic principles of tissue micro-beam mechanics that can be generalized to cell types, ECMs, and bio-printing support materials. "These foundational principles can be extended to other shapes such as sheets and tubes, enabling a component-oriented future of mechanical design in tissue engineering and bio-fabrication in which stability and instability are programmed into the tissue maturation process," said Cameron Morley, co-first author. Morely is also a Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. student mentored by Dr. Angelini.
Breakthrough - Finding - Implications - Bio-fabrication - Strategies
Their breakthrough finding, which has significant implications on 3-D bio-fabrication strategies and design of dynamic multicellular assemblies in regenerative medicine, as well as tissue engineering applications, is published in the July issue of...
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