Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists 'herd' cells in new approach to tissue engineering

Date:
March 11, 2014
Source:
University of California - Berkeley
Summary:
An electrical current can be used to orchestrate the flow of a group of cells, engineers have discovered. This achievement sets the stage for more controlled forms of tissue engineering and for potential applications such as 'smart bandages' that use electrical stimulation to help heal wounds. "This is the first data showing that direct current fields can be used to deliberately guide migration of a sheet of epithelial cells," said the study's lead author.

The top image shows a patch of epithelial cells. The white lines in the middle image mark the electric current flowing from positive to negative over the cells. The bottom image shows how the cells track the electric field, with blue indicating leftward migration and red signaling rightward movement.
Credit: Daniel Cohen

Sometimes it only takes a quick jolt of electricity to get a swarm of cells moving in the right direction.

Researchers at UC Berkeley found that an electrical current can be used to orchestrate the flow of a group of cells, an achievement that could establish the basis for more controlled forms of tissue engineering and for potential applications such as "smart bandages" that use electrical stimulation to help heal wounds.

In the experiments, described in a study published this week in the journal Nature Materials, the researchers used single layers of epithelial cells, the type of cells that bind together to form robust sheathes in skin, kidneys, cornea and other organs. They found that by applying an electric current of about five volts per centimeter, they could encourage cells to migrate along the direct current electric field.

They were able to make the cells swarm left or right, to diverge or converge and to make collective U-turns. They also created elaborate shapes, such as a triceratops and the UC Berkeley Cal bear mascot, to explore how the population and configuration of cell sheets affect migration.

Directing herds vs. individuals

"This is the first data showing that direct current fields can be used to deliberately guide migration of a sheet of epithelial cells," said study lead author Daniel Cohen, who did this work as a student in the UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering. "There are many natural systems whose properties and behaviors arise from interactions across large numbers of individual parts -- sand dunes, flocks of birds, schools of fish, and even the cells in our tissues. Just as a few sheepdogs exert enormous control over the herding behavior of sheep, we might be able to similarly herd biological cells for tissue engineering."

Galvanotaxis -- the use of electricity to direct cell movement -- had been previously demonstrated for individual cells, but how it influences the collective motion of cells was still unclear.

"The ability to govern the movement of a mass of cells has great utility as a scientific tool in tissue engineering," said study senior author Michel Maharbiz, UC Berkeley associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences. "Instead of manipulating one cell at a time, we could develop a few simple design rules that would provide a global cue to control a collection of cells."

The work was borne from a project, led by Maharbiz, to develop electronic nanomaterials for medical use that was funded by the National Science Foundation's Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program. The researchers collaborated with W. James Nelson, professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University and one of the world's top experts in cell-to-cell adhesion. Cohen is now a postdoctoral research fellow in Nelson's lab.

Possible wound healing applications

With our bodies full of flowing ions and salt solutions, it is no surprise that electrical signals play a big role in our physiology, from neural transmissions to muscle stimulation.

"The electrical phenomenon we are exploring is distinct in that the current produced is providing a cue for cells to migrate," said Maharbiz.

The study authors are exploring the role of bioelectrical signals in the wound healing process, building upon the discovery in 1843 that an injury to the body creates a change in the electrical field at the wound site. By mapping the changes in the electrical field when an injury occurs and as it heals, the researchers may be able to develop technology to help speed and improve the repair process.

"These data clearly demonstrate that the kind of cellular control we would need for a smart bandage might be possible, and the next part of our work will focus on adapting this technology for use in actual injuries," said Cohen.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Berkeley. The original article was written by Sarah Yang. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel J. Cohen, W. James Nelson, Michel M. Maharbiz. Galvanotactic control of collective cell migration in epithelial monolayers. Nature Materials, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nmat3891

Cite This Page:

University of California - Berkeley. "Scientists 'herd' cells in new approach to tissue engineering." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311151955.htm>.
University of California - Berkeley. (2014, March 11). Scientists 'herd' cells in new approach to tissue engineering. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311151955.htm
University of California - Berkeley. "Scientists 'herd' cells in new approach to tissue engineering." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311151955.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins