Tissue development and homeostasis relies on the availability of spatiotemporal reference points provided by localized variations in physical and chemical parameters. These create gradients along which cells can move and be maintained. Durotaxis is a less well-known but important mechanism by which cells move along a gradient of elasticity (stiffness).
Increasingly, the key roles of biophysical cues in modulating stem cell response have been studied in vitro. Based on the ability of cells to actively sense and react to their microenvironment through mechanotransduction systems, these studies have shown that the growth and differentiation of stem cells can be controlledâ€”even in the absence of biochemical stimuli such as growth factors. These reports further suggest that the stimulation delivered by biophysical cues actually have advantages over biochemical stimuli.
Animal-origin reagents are essential for a multitude of research and biomanufacturing applications. Many important research breakthroughs and life-saving therapeutics would not be possible without them. However, there is increasing pressure for change.