[Legitscience] – Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco [USCF] have discussed a new and affordable way to regenerate tissue and heal wounds.
Scientists have created molecules that function as “cellular glue,” allowing them to precisely control how cells adhere to one another. This is a big step forward in the long-term goal of regenerative medicine, which has been the creation of tissues and organs.
Synthetic Cell-Adhesive Molecules [ new way to regenerate tissue, heal wounds ]
Scientists have created molecules that function as “cellular glue,” enabling them to precisely control how cells adhere to one another. The discovery is a significant step toward regenerative medicine’s long-term goal of creating new tissues and organs.
In the body, adhesive molecules are naturally present and keep the tens of trillions of cells together in intricate patterns. They assemble structures, build neural networks and direct immune cells toward their intended targets.
Adhesion also makes cell communication easier between cells, keeping the body operating as a self-regulating whole.
The scientists engineered cells with specialized adhesion molecules that joined with particular partner cells in predictable ways to construct intricate multicellular ensembles. The findings of this study were reported in the issue of Nature on December 12.
According to senior author Wendell Lim, PhD, the Byers Distinguished Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and director of UCSF’s Cell Design Institute, “We were able to engineer cells in a manner that allows us to control which cells they interact with, as well as the nature of that interaction. This makes it possible to create new organs and tissue architectures.”
Regenerating Connections Between Cells
One pertinent fact in regenerative medicine is that bodily tissues and organs begin to form in utero. This continues to develop through childhood. By the time people reach adulthood, many of the molecular instructions that control these generative processes have vanished. Also, some tissues like nerves, are incapable of recovering from injury or illness.
Lim aims to overcome this by creating new connections between adult cells. However, to achieve this, one must be able to precisely engineer how cells communicate with one another.
According to Adam Stevens, PhD, the Hartz Fellow in the Cell Design Institute and the paper’s first author, “The properties of a tissue, like your skin, are controlled in large part by how the different cells are structured within it.”
“We’re coming up with techniques to manage this cell organization. This is essential to being able to synthesize tissues with the properties we want them to have,” said Stevens.
The degree to which a tissue’s cells are joined together determines how distinctive it is in large part. Many of the cells of a solid organ, such as the liver or lungs, will be very closely connected. The immune system, however, uses weaker connections to allow cells to go through blood vessels or squeeze between the tightly packed cells of skin or organ tissues in order to access a pathogen or a lesion.
The researchers divided the design of their adhesion molecules into two portions to control that aspect of cell bonding. On the outside of the cell, a portion of the molecule functions as a receptor. Also, it chooses which other cells it will associate with. The strength of the bond that forms is tuned by a second component located inside the cell.
The two components are interchangeable in a modular method to produce a variety of specialized cells that bind in various ways across a range of cell types.
The Coding That Supports Cellular Assembly
According to Stevens, these discoveries also have other uses For instance, scientists could design tissues to model disease states, to make it easier to study them in human tissue.
Cell adhesion was a crucial step in the evolution of mammals and other multicellular species. The study of custom adhesion molecules may help us better understand how the transition from unicellular to multicellular life took place.
Stevens said that it was “extremely thrilling.” This is because we now know a lot more about how evolution would have begun producing bodies.
According to our research, “a flexible molecular adhesion code controls which cells will connect with one another and how. We may use this code now that we are beginning to comprehend it to control how cells come together to form tissues and organs. These tools have the potential to be really revolutionary.”
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