In his October 2014 Scientific American article "Twists Of Fate," biologist Stefano Piccolo explains how physical forces outside of a cell affect genes that control that cell's behavior. Donald E. Ingber, one of the founders of this area of research, called mechanobiology, says in this video that "mechanical forces are as important for the control of cell and tissue and organ development as are chemicals and genes." Ingber, founding director of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, says that you can squish undifferentiated cells between two pieces of rubber, and it prompts those cells to develop into specialized, complex types that form different parts of an organ. And when such physical forces are perturbed, he notes, it can produce disease.
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