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Engineers offers new insights into prenatal limb development

28th April 2015

A new Canadian study has combined medical and engineering insights to gain a new understanding of the way that physical forces affect the development of limbs in embryos.

The collaboration saw University of Toronto engineers share insights with a paediatric surgeon, while using live imaging and computer models to study the links between mechanical forces, changes in cell shape and cell movement in the embryo.

It was found that as cells develop, the way they communicate with each other and the pressure resulting from movements of the three cell layers can impact how well limb buds are formed.

To measure the mechanical forces, the authors used techniques borrowed from manufacturing and engineering, including the use of a laser to cut interfaces between cells.

Greater understanding of the mechanical and biochemical communication between cell layers will make it easier to predict limb development and potentially prevent deformation.

University of Toronto mechanical engineer Professor Yu Sun said: "We found amazing evidence on how mechanical forces regulate the remodelling of cells in the ectoderm layer and how the stress field changes when the ectoderm changes its shape as it develops."ADNFCR-8000103-ID-801785428-ADNFCR

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