Mechanobiology for health care: “Advanced nanometrology: from bench to patient”

Bozec, Laurent (1); Strange, Adam (2); Maeva, Anna (3); Birch, Helen (4); De Leeuw, Helen (5)

  1. Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto CA

  2. Eastman Dental Institute, University College London UK

  3. Eastman Dental Institute, University College London UK

  4. Division of Surgery, University College London UK

  5. School of Chemistry, Cardiff University UK

Investigating the mechano-biology of tissues at the nanoscale is paramount to establish not only the link between their forms and functions but also the inception of several diseases and disorders. As a scientist, I have always been fascinated to understand how machines work, how forces are transmitted and what defines the shape of objects, especially in the natural environment.
My research groups works on the application of atomic force microscopy to advance the knowledge and discover in the diagnosis of diseases, cell-host interactions and materials characterisation. Traditionally reserved to physical/biophysical research, AFM has to date struggle to make an impact in medicine and diagnostics. However, by working closely with clinicians and patients but also with physicists, chemists and engineers, we have been able to translate this advanced nanometrology and imaging technique for patients’ benefits. This was made possible by merging AFM metrology with histology for example. Over the last 4 years, our approach has been introduced successfully in research fields related to ageing, connective and mineralised tissue disorders and finally bacteriology.
By combining our newly developed Quantitative Nanohistology approach performed directly on human histological biopsies together with an in-house collagen scaffold ageing model and advanced computational chemistry, we have been able to propose and verify a new model of collagen adaptation to the ageing process in connective tissues. This model brings new light on the previously deleteriously described role of Advanced Glycation End-products accumulation in connective tissue. The basis of this research will drive the development of new reactive scaffolds that can be tailored as function of the age of the patients or tissue site.