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Tuning Cells for Health and Wellness

science news Jan 07, 2020
by William Brown, Resonance Science Foundation Research Scientist

Resonance-based technologies utilize harmonic interactions to effortlessly produce significant effects. This is why the potential for applications in energy production is so promising: methods employing harmonic resonance can do more with less energy. Additionally, technologies employing harmonic resonance offer a potential means for benefiting health and wellness of the biological system without deleterious side-effects.

With such potential applications, Torus Tech is developing the resonant modulation capabilities of its plasma-hydrodynamic and harmonic frequency technologies to direct beneficial signaling in the extra-cellular matrix for restorative and bio-regenerative therapies. Such techniques offer a highly efficacious and non-invasive method to restore healthy operations of the body and to target specific conditions such as injury and cancer.

The extra-cellular matrix (ECM) is a part of the body-wide connective tissue network that forms the vast system through which the body’s 100+ trillion cells communicate and coordinate. The extra-cellular matrix is a key component of intracellular signaling, and the cell receives much of its information from the mechanical input of the ECM—in the form of solitons, acoustic modes, and other phononic frequencies.

Only recently was the importance of the connective tissue network understood as a body-wide mechanosensitive signaling network. Understanding the role of the connective tissue network, the extracellular matrix, and mechanical / acoustic signaling in the body is a key component of developing efficacious stem cell bioregenerative therapies and cancer treatment. It is important for stem cell bio-regeneration applications because it is the information contained within the ECM that tells a pluripotent stem cell what cell-type to develop into, and how to appropriately integrate with the surrounding tissue.

The ECM plays a critical role in neogenesis, as the final step in the transformation of a cell to a malignancy is detachment from the connective tissue network. No longer in communication and coordination with the body, the cell acts as an independent organism and becomes cancerous, promoting its own rapid replication and survival at the expense of the host. Understanding how to harness the communicativity network of the ECM will therefore enable anti-tumorigenic treatments and stem-cell based rejuvenation therapies.

As an example of the promise of such applications, a new study involving an inter-membrane cell surface protein receptor that receives mechanico-acoustic signals from the ECM—known as Syndecan-4—has shown the importance of the cell signaling protein in regulating cancer progression and tuning the cell’s responses to environmental conditions. By engineering the response of Syndecan-4, researchers have shown they can potentially utilize the ECM mechanosensing function to target and alter any number of diseases and biological processes.

The researchers were able to tune the signaling response of Syndecan-4 using nanoscopic magnetic beads that can be used to modulate the mechanical tension of the protein. This results in an intercellular signaling cascade that changes the cells responsiveness to apoptosis as well as cellular morphology via alteration of cytoskeleton components. Professor Vesa Hytönen of Tampere University said: “Better understanding of cellular mechanosensing opens possibilities to develop treatments for conditions like cancer and fibrosis.”

More information: Syndecan-4 tunes cell mechanics by activating the kindlin-integrin-RhoA pathway, Nature Materials (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41563-019-0567-1

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