The stiffness of soft tissues is tightly controlled under normal conditions. Numerous findings – in liver fibrosis, kidney disease, and cancer – strongly suggest that altered tissue mechanics is not only a symptom, but also a causative factor in disease. One area of research in our laboratory is the study of the rheological properties of normal and diseased soft tissues and elucidating how cells and the structural components of the extracellular matrix may contribute to these rheological properties. We use polymer networks, such as fibrin and collagen gels, as simple experimental models for ECM networks and soft tissues. The components of these networks can be easily manipulated as a means to model the extracellular matrix and understand the mechanical behavior of soft tissues.
Link to the LRSM Rheology Facility: