To study the effects of physical forces on cell growth and differentiation, researchers must stretch, strain, compress, shear, pull, or apply pressure to tissue culture cells. Numerous procedures have been created to apply force to cells in vitro. Designed to simulate forces encountered in vivo, such methods include cell wounding by cutting a monolayer and the application of tension or compression by means of hydraulic pressure.

Now, with the development of the Bio-Stretch System from ICCT Technologies R & D Center Inc. of Markham, Ontario, researchers have a computerized stretch instrument that enables the study of cells in a mechanically active environment. Through the use of highly controlled magnetic forces, the Bio-Stretch device allows researchers to apply user-defined, controlled, static, or variable cyclic stretches to cells cultured in two or three dimensions. As a result, the effects of mechanical stress as a regulator of cell growth, differentiation, structure, and function...

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