Mechanical and molecular signaling plays a crucial role in intercellular communication and it is pivotal in many physiological processes such as wound healing or connective tissue maturation. Yet, understanding these biological processes driven by mechanic forces and chemical cues is currently hindered by the ability to mimic and monitor the local environment experienced by individual cells and their ensembles. We propose a novel approach to mechanical stimulus based on light-controlled free-standing microactuators performing defined cyclic motion, which is directly transmitted to attached cellular structures. Next, we integrate plasmonic microbiosensors with the microactuators, which allow for spatiotemporally resolved in situ monitoring of molecular signaling and stress biomarker species. The developed toolbox will be employed for the investigating of the impact of dysfunctional inflammatory mechano-signaling in tendon and ligament models.
Soft micromachines for mechanic stimulation and biosensing in cell-on-chip (SoMiCell)