24 March 2021

Elena Macías-Sánchez, theme Reconstructive and Regenerative medicine, has been awarded a prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, to develop a two-year project investigating the process of bone mineralization. Elena will develop a new imaging platform combining Liquid Phase Electron Microscopy (LPEM) with immunolabelling to study the role of regulatory molecules (proteoglycans) in mineral formation at nanoscale resolution. “By recreating the physiological mineralization conditions inside a liquid cell, we aim to obtain real-time data on the mineralization dynamics of bone.”

Despite its clinical relevance, the mechanism of bone formation is still poorly understood, mainly due to the complexity of the underlying processes. Until now most studies relied on simplified in vitro models that cannot represent this complexity. Furthermore, methods traditionally applied only provide snapshots of these processes, unable to extract dynamic information. “To really understand the mechanisms regulating bone mineralization, we need to simultaneously visualize the different components in their context, to be able to monitor these complex interactions.”

The project will be carried out at the Department of Biochemistry, under the supervision of Nico Sommerdijk, theme Nanomedicine/Reconstructive and Regenerative medicine, and in close collaboration with Niels de Jonge from the Leibnitz Institute for New Materials (INM, Saarbrucken). Sommerdijk and De Jonge pioneer the study of biomolecular interactions in the hydrated state by means of electron microscopy. The project is supported by the Electron Microscopy Center recently established within the RTC Microscopy.

 

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