A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Into the (Extracellular) Matrix


Researchers develop new model to investigate fibrosis treatments without use of animals.

To find treatments for connective tissue disorders like fibrosis, scientists need models that can replicate the structure and function of human tissue when it’s healthy as well as when it isn’t, and react to drugs just like diseased human tissue would. But most models are based on animals and present significant limitations.

A new model developed at Brown uses human cells and replicates not only the structure of human tissue, but also its mechanics.

The researchers describe the model in an Advanced Science study published February 1.

“This model gives researchers a new tool to not only explore the underlying mechanisms of fibrosis and inherited diseases of the extracellular matrix but to also test potential treatments for them,” says senior author Jeff Morgan, PhD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and of engineering.

That development is crucial, Morgan adds, because there are no cures for fibrosis, and disorders of the extracellular matrix like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome are in need of new treatments.

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