Seeing Cell Biology with the Eyes of Physics

Carlo Ventura
 

Abstract

Rhythmic oscillatory patterns permeate the entire universe and sustain cellular dynamics at biological level. The intracellular environment is now regarded as a complex nanotopography embedding “intracrine” signals that encompass the intracellular action of regulatory molecules coupled with the newly discovered functions of the microtubuar network. Microtubuli, are far away from simply being a part of the cytoskeleton, since they produce both nanomechanical motions and display electromagnetic resonance modes that may turn local events into non-local, long ranging paths. The possibility that microtubuli form a bioelectronic circuit prompts rethinking of biomolecular recognition as a result of synchronization of the oscillatory patterns of proteins sustained and orchestrated by resonance modes brought about by the microtubular network itself. Here, we discuss these issues within the biomedical perspective of using physical energies to govern (stem) cell fate. We focus on the ability of specially conveyed electromagnetic fields to afford optimization of stem cell polarity and pluripotency, reversing stem cell aging and promoting a multilineage repertoire in human adult stem cells, as well as in human non-stem somatic cells. We discuss the use atomic force microscopy and hyperspectral imaging for deciphering the nanomotions generated by (stem) cells during their growth and differentiation. We highlight the potential for unraveling vibrational signatures that can be exploited to direct the differentiation and self-healing potential of tissue-resident stem cells in vivo. In conclusion, seeing stem cell biology with the eyes of Physics may help developing a Regenerative/Precision medicine afforded through the stimulation of the natural ability of tissues for self-healing, without the needs of stem cell transplantation.

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