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Rewriting the Narrative: Cell Behaviour on Soft Surfaces Explores New Horizons in Mechanobiology

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Researchers from the University of Turku, Turku Bioscience Centre, and Misvik Biology Ltd in Finland have pioneered a method that provides fresh insight into how cancer cells function in varying tissue stiffness. The breakthrough challenges the established belief that cells thrive predominantly on stiffer surfaces. While this viewpoint paralleled our preference for walking on hard pathways over soft mud, it lacked nuance regarding the diverse tissue stiffness across our bodies.

By utilizing a combination of computational modelling and varying growth conditions, the team meticulously studied cell behaviour on both soft and stiff surfaces. Utilizing an innovative automated system, different protein mixtures were microprinted on these surfaces, replicating the natural environment cells encounter in the body.

Dr James Conway, the lead researcher, highlighted the significance of more diverse protein mixtures in cell cultures. They found that the appropriate protein combination could facilitate cell growth on softer surfaces, resembling their behaviour on stiffer grounds.

Professor Johanna Ivaska, the principal investigator, described these discoveries as a "paradigm shift" in mechanobiology, paving the way for advancements in cancer biology and tissue engineering.

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