about the episode
The cells in our bodies are surrounded by a substance that provides support and structure. Matter not only does this, but also sends signals to the cells, like a conductor giving instructions to an orchestra.
The instructions from the conductive material can be mechanical as well as biochemical. Mechanical signals carry information about the softness or hardness of a material, while biochemical signals direct cells through small molecules.
All of them affect how cells behave. This material is not just an insulating or protective material. So if you research cells and their behavior in the lab, it can’t be missed. Now, the material that comes from a mouse tumor is often used as a substitute for the natural version. See: not perfect. This is partly because it is difficult to control in terms of growth and this makes it unsuitable for use in a clinical setting.
So, University of Eindhoven researcher Patricia Dankers wants to use the NWO grant she recently received of €1.5 million to develop a synthetic replacement for this with a new team of researchers. It must be a reactive synthetic hydrogel. It’s not an easy task, but if it works, it could make a huge difference in future research.
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