This article was originally posted on Becker’s Spine Review.

Penn Engineering researchers recently examined stem cell transformation and found they could have more influence on shaping their environment and determining functionality, according to a Penn Today report.

The researchers included John Burdick, the Robert D. Bent Professor of Bioengineering, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab and Robert Mauck, MD, the Mary Black Ralston Professor for Education and Research in Orthopaedic Surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine.

The team was able to:

  1. Visualize cell-produced proteins within their microenvironment.
  2. Develop two unique hydrogels for embedding the cells. The hydrogels mimicked biophysical properties of body tissue.
  3. After being placed in the hydrogels, the cells released proteins within hours. The proteins had influence over changes in the extracellular environment and they participated in cell behavior regulation.

The team published their research in Nature.