Insight into How Cells Get Signals from Physical Senses Could Lead to New Disease Treatments

A new study published May 1, 2023 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by co-authors Wolfgang Losert (IPST/Physics), John Fourkas (IPST/CHEM), Qixin Yang (Ph.D. ’22, physics) and chemistry Ph.D. student Matt Hourwitz et al., has opened the door to seeing how cells react to physical signals.

“We elucidated a cell's sense of touch,” said Wolfgang Losert, team leader of the study. “We think how cells sense the physical environment may be quite distinct from how they sense the chemical environment. This may help us develop new treatment options for conditions that involve altered physical cellular environments, such as tumors, immune disease and wound healing.”

“We’re really answering a kind of long-standing mystery of how cells react to cues in their environment that are on a physical rather than chemical-size scale,” said paper co-author and MURI team member John T. Fourkas.

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