Friday, 30 May 2014

Mechanics in Biology and Medicine

Researchers from eleven different institutions have identified specific areas of biology and medicine in which mechanics could make significant contributions in a new Perspective article.  Three areas were analysed: nanoparticle-based drug delivery, medical devices, and cell mechanics.

Nanoparticle –based drug delivery is one area ripe with opportunitiy.  In particular, modelling of the drug delivery process would reduce the need for physical experiments and expedite nanoparticle design for improved delivery.  Integrating computational modelling into the rational design of nanoparticles offers the opportunity to improve nanoparticle performance during, for example, vascular transport and endocytosis. 

Modeling also has a role to play in improving a variety of medical devices.  For example, recent developments in “organ-on-chip” devices require understanding of complex transport behaviours through channels, gels and complex tissues.  In another area, advances in ventricular assist devices could greatly benefit from computational mechanics simulations to optimise design and hopefully mitigate problems such as thrombus formation. 

Finally, in the section entitled “cell mechanics”, the authors identified a critical need for better constitutive models for single-cell mechanical behaviour, taking into account the active behaviour of cells.  The mechanics community could also contribute to the development of integrated tools for single cell studies exploring biological variability.

This is just a brief summary of issues that particularly resonated with me.  If you’re interested in the topic, I recommend you go to the full article. This is a long paper, and so my “Bites” length rules are waived for this one.  

USNCTAM perspectives on mechanics in medicine; G. Bao et al, J. R. Soc. Interface 2014 11, 20140301

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