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Biomaterials: Designing extracellular matrices
The fate and functions of a cell lie not in its DNA alone, but also in its extracellular matrix, the network of proteins that encapsulates the cell. Cells grown in their tissue microenvironments behave in more life-like ways than those grown on standard tissue-culture plates. Thus, they serve as better stand-ins for understanding drug responses, tumor biology, and tissue repair. Many such biologically derived materials are already in clinical use for regenerative medicine, while newer, synthetic versions reveal precisely how and why the matrix controls a cell’s behavior.
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