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Contractions enable cells to close wounds by cooperatively pressing down on the underlying tissue, thus quickening the healing. (Credit: Fraser Graham/Flickr)

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Cells ‘press down’ to make wounds heal faster

Scientists have uncovered more details about how our bodies repair wounds.

They say having a clearer idea of how the process works might help researchers develop drugs that speed up healing.

Earlier studies identified two processes at play in mending injury in the body. One involves the “purse-string” mechanism where a ring of proteins forms at the edge of a wound and tightens like the strings of a purse.

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The second is “cell crawling,” where cells move across the gap using arm-like projections to close the gap.

Professor Benoit Ladoux, co-principal investigator at the Mechanobiology Institute at the National University of Singapore, and colleagues created a technique to measure the cell-generated nanoscale forces behind wound healing.

Through experiments and computational modeling, they found that the two existing mechanisms are insufficient to fully explain the process.

At the early stages, traction forces point away from the wound, which suggests wound closure is initially driven by cell crawling. At later stages, the team observed forces pointing toward the wound.

The investigators discovered a new mechanism whereby cells gather and exert structural and mechanical forces on the underlying tissue. The contractions enable the cells to close the wound by cooperatively pressing down on the underlying tissue, thus quickening the healing.

The findings are reported in Nature Physics.

This study was conducted jointly with collaborators from the Institut de Bioenginyeria de Catalunya, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, and Universitat de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, as well as Paris Diderot University in France and the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Source: National University of Singapore

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