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New method to simulate artificial tissue

Scientist examning human tissue under a microscope

A new method to simulate how artificial tissue can be grown in the lab to repair injuries and to provide better ways of testing new medicines without using animals has been developed by an OU researcher.

Reported in the journal, Physical Review Research (November 2020), a paper, led by Dr Jim Hague, Senior Lecturer in the OU’s School of Physical Sciences, reports a new biophysical computational modelling approach that can describe the feedback loop between the organisation of cells in, and the shapes of, artificial tissues.

Dr Hague said:

“The key strength of our model is that it is both accurate and fast enough for usefully sized tissues to be simulated, and therefore to make predictions about how artificial tissue with specific properties can be grown.”

The research which is being carried out in collaboration with the OU’s School of Life Health and Chemical Sciences and University College London Centre for Nerve Engineering, will be useful for assisting in the design of experimental moulds and scaffolds that guide artificial tissue growth.

Dr Hague added:

“The human body is made up of tissues such as muscle or nerves, which are made from groups of cells. There are hopes that artificially created tissue could be used to repair injuries and provide better ways of testing new medicines without using animals. These applications are challenging to achieve, because the arrangements of cells found in real tissues can be difficult to reproduce artificially.

“Design of artificial tissue with realistic characteristics is very difficult and time consuming to do using trial and error, so the ability to predict how designs behave without having to do lots of time-consuming experiments will be valuable.“

The researchers are now expanding this research under a Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) project to make the model available as a commercial product, which they expect will be available for end users in the Spring.

Read the paper: Microscopic biophysical model of self-organisation in tissue due to feedback between cell- and macroscopic-scale forces

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