Mini-lung model with real-time monitoring of cell mechanics for investigating lung fibrosis
Just like a scar might form over an injury on your skin, damage to your organs can result in rigid tissue which restricts movement and function. When this happens in the lungs, such as in the major post-COVID complication lung fibrosis, stiffened tissue can stop the lungs working and be fatal. Current methods for investigating this in the lab are limited, so researchers have made a mini-lung model equipped with real-time monitoring of cell mechanics under life-like conditions. An ultra-thin membrane supports the growth of cells (such as the false-coloured purple air sac lining cell pictured on a bed of green matrix proteins). The membrane is compatible with the body’s cells, and is permeable and flexible to mimic lung tissue. The researchers measured cell stiffness as a marker of disease progression or improvement, and can test the impact of any treatments, which will help the development of any new therapies.
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