Biomechanical perspective of cellular micro-environment for biomedical applications

Devina Jaiswal, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Western New England University
Thu, November 12, 2020 at 2:30 PM

Cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interaction is an important aspect for cell differentiation, proliferation and regulation. The micro-mechanical environment is sensed by cellular mechanosensors that transcends signal to produce cell response. Understanding the mechanics and engineering the microenvironment to manipulate cells such as stem cells or cancer cells can help in understanding cell behavior for tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. Microenvironment of the cells can be manipulated by varying their contact geometry or subjecting the cells to physical forces such as micro-compression or extension. Tissue engineering applications include, fine tuning diameter of electrospun fibers to stimulate mechanosensors such as integrin, zyxin and vinculin to upregulate or downregulate MAP Kinase pathway. Fiber diameter can play a major role in modulating the activation of extracellular signal‐regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 kinases with a threshold diameter producing an inverse effect on ERK and p38 phosphorylation. Similarly, mechanical characterization of heterogenous tissue mass such as tumors can lead to early detection of cancer. Biomechanical micro-signatures and changes in cellular environment can be used as early biomarkers to identify malignant and benign tumors. 3D organoids and spheroids made from different cell sources used for studying cancer can have differing macro and micro mechanical stiffness which can be correlated to cell’s response to drug. These tissue systems can be characterized using microtweezers and analyzed using pattern recognition. Likewise, localized changes in heterogenous tissue which are indicative of a pathology can be detected using label-free optical elastography. For future, characterization of a heterogeneous microenvironment of the tissue can be used for customized drug delivery, engineering tissue systems and cancer therapy.  

Devina Jaiswal, Ph.D.

Devina Jaiswal, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, received her M.S. in Bioengineering from Pennsylvania State University where she worked on bone tissue engineering. Her primary research focused on cellular mechanosensing and analyzing the effect of surface geometry on downstream signaling pathways. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut with a concentration in biomedical micro-electromechanical devices used for cellular manipulation and characterization. She has published research articles in various peer-reviewed journals and regularly serves as a reviewer for these journals.  She is also a reviewer for Department of Defense’s CDMRP grants. Her research interests include tissue engineering, mechanosensing, and drug delivery. Other than research, she is devoted to best teaching practices for undergraduate and graduate education. She was named Kern Engineering Entrepreneurship Network (KEEN) Fellow for 2020-21. She strongly believes in inculcating entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate courses by development of experiential learning modules