Tissue Engineering & Mechanobiology Mechanical Testing Solutions

Tissue engineering applies the principles of biology and engineering to the development of functional substitutes for damaged tissue. Mechanobiology provides insights into tissue physiology, disease development and relevant therapeutic strategies by understanding how mechanical forces induce changes at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels. These two fields focus heavily on how physical forces and changes in the mechanical properties of cells and tissues contribute to development, cell differentiation, physiology, and disease. Thus, mechanical testing is an integral part of advancements in these emerging fields.

ADMET testing systems are trusted by leading medical device manufacturers, universities, and research laboratories to determine the mechanical properties and endurance limits of medical devices, biomaterials, tissues, and tissue-engineered products. Our systems designed for tissue engineering and mechanobiology applications incorporate mechanical testing solutions that mimic the physiological conditions of the specimen. In addition, ADMET has become a world leader in miniature test systems that sit atop a microscope stage and fit inside perfusion bioreactors. These sophisticated miniature test systems help tissue engineers and cell biologists perform high resolution investigations in mechanobiology.

Why do scientists study the mechanical properties of tissues?

Mechanical properties of biological tissues serve as a cornerstone for advancements in healthcare technology, diagnostic techniques, and therapeutic approaches. Multiple applications in biomedical engineering, clinical diagnostics, and therapeutics rely on the comprehensive analysis of the mechanical properties of tissues. Below is a list of key reasons why scientists and engineers need to characterize these properties:

  • Physiological Insights
    • Mechanical properties can offer crucial insights into the physiological status of tissues. Changes in tissue stiffness or elasticity can be indicative of disease states such as fibrosis, cancer, or inflammation.
  • Biomechanics
    • Biomechanics, the field that establishes the mechanical properties of biological tissues such as bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles, requires investigation and testing of biological tissues under various loading conditions. Although biomechanics applies engineering principles to biological systems, it also requires careful analysis of the biological tissue.
  • Implant Design
    • Knowledge of tissue mechanical properties is crucial for designing implants and prostheses that can mimic or complement the functions of natural tissues, thereby ensuring compatibility and reducing the risk of implant failure.
  • Regulatory Compliance
    • Understanding mechanical properties is often necessary to meet the regulatory standards that ensure the safety and efficacy of new medical devices and materials.
  • Tissue Engineering and Regeneration
    • For scientists involved in the development of artificial organs or tissues, understanding the mechanical properties is essential to create substitutes that behave similarly to natural tissues.
  • Personalized Medicine
    • As healthcare moves toward more personalized treatments, understanding the unique mechanical properties of an individual’s tissues can be essential for customized therapeutic approaches.
  • Drug Delivery
    • Mechanical properties can affect the diffusion of drugs in tissue, and thus influence drug delivery strategies. A more porous tissue may allow for quicker drug diffusion, while denser tissues might require specialized delivery mechanisms.
  • Diagnostics
    • Tools like elastography and other imaging technologies that assess tissue stiffness are becoming important diagnostic techniques for conditions like liver cirrhosis or tumors.
  • Surgical Planning
    • Surgeons can benefit from understanding tissue mechanical properties to make better judgments during operations. For example, the toughness of a tissue might influence the type of surgical tools used.
  • Computational Models
    • Accurate mechanical properties are essential for developing computational models of biological systems engineered to predict tissue behavior under various conditions.
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Why is it important to understand how cells respond to mechanical stimuli?

Understanding how cells respond to mechanical stimuli provides valuable insights into fundamental biological processes, facilitates advancements in medical research and technology, and leads the way for therapeutic interventions in various diseases. Below is a list of key reasons why scientists and engineers study the physical forces and changes in the mechanical properties of cells and tissues:

  • Regulation of Gene Expression
    • Mechanical forces can influence gene expression patterns. The field of mechanobiology studies how mechanical stimuli impact the regulation of genes. This understanding is crucial for unraveling the complexities of gene regulation and its connection to cellular function.
  • Drug Development
    • Many drugs and therapeutic interventions target cellular processes. If mechanical stimuli influence these processes, it becomes crucial to understand these interactions for developing effective drugs. Additionally, drugs designed to modulate cellular responses to mechanical stimuli can be developed for specific medical conditions.
  • Disease Mechanisms
    • Mechanical forces are involved in the development and progression of various diseases. For example, in conditions like atherosclerosis, the mechanical forces exerted on blood vessel walls contribute to disease initiation and progression. Understanding cellular responses to these forces can provide insights into disease mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets.
  • Tissue Engineering
    • Mimicking the native mechanical environment of tissues is essential for successful tissue regeneration. This knowledge helps in designing scaffolds and culture conditions that support the desired cellular responses.
  • Cell Signaling
    • Cells are sensitive to their physical environment, and mechanical stimuli play a significant role in cellular signaling. Mechanical cues can trigger intracellular signaling pathways that regulate various cellular processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. By understanding these responses, researchers can gain insights into fundamental biological processes.
  • Cancer Biology
    • Mechanical cues play a role in cancer progression. Tumor cells often experience altered mechanical forces compared to normal cells, influencing their behavior. Understanding how cancer cells respond to mechanical stimuli can contribute to the development of targeted therapies and diagnostics.
  • Cellular Microenvironment
    • The microenvironment surrounding cells, including the extracellular matrix and neighboring cells, has a mechanical component. Cells interact with this environment, and their responses are influenced by mechanical factors. This is particularly relevant in the context of cell migration, tissue development, and organ function.
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What mechanical testing equipment do I need for tissue engineering and mechanobiology?

To perform mechanical testing for tissue engineering and mechanobiology applications, you will need a testing frame equipped with a closed-loop controller and the appropriate test fixture to clamp the test specimen.  Mechanical testing frames utilized for tissue and biomaterials may incorporate environmental chambers, fluid baths, and microscopes. The type of testing system required will be dependent on the type of test(s) performed and the required calculations.

Tissue Engineering Testing Systems

Mini Universal testing machine with pencil for scale

eXpert 4000 – MicroTester Universal Testing Machine

The eXpert 4000 series MicroTesters measure very low forces and small displacements on biomaterials and tissue specimens that can often be difficult to hold.

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Tensile Test setup for Arteries and Veins

eXpert 4000 – MicroTester Equipped with Environmental Bath

Most of ADMET’s material testing systems (including MicroTesters) can be configured for testing in fluid baths to replicate the desired environment.

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small electrodynamic material testing system for fatigue testing

eXpert 4900 – MicroTester Fatigue Testing Machine

The eXpert 4900 is designed for measuring the viscoelastic properties of tissue specimens.

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Planar Biaxial testing in a fluid bath

eXpert 8000 – Planar Biaxial Testing Machine

ADMET’s eXpert 8000 planar biaxial test machines are ideal for measuring the mechanical response of biomaterials under different stress states.

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