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The aim of research in respiratory mechanics is to investigate the viscoelastic properties of the airways and lung tissues. At present, the work fundamentally focuses on the study of upper airway collapsibility in obstructive apnea-hypopnea during sleep and on the monitoring of noninvasive mechanical ventilation during respiratory failure. The clinical aim of this research is to obtain improved noninvasive diagnostic techniques, and to optimize the treatment methods based on ventilation assist measurements.
Molecular and cellular nanomechanics
The introduction of nanotechnologies allowing the manipulation of materials on the nanometric and pico-Newton scale has opened up new perspectives for the investigation of individual biomolecules and cells. Our group uses atomic force microscopy, magnetic microspheres and traction force microscopy to study cell adhesion and the mechanical properties of lung cells and leukocytes. Studies are also made of the mechanical properties of embryonic and adult stem cells during the differentiation process, and of the way in which mechanical stimuli can enhance differentiation towards the alveolar epithelial phenotype. One of our projects in this setting focuses on organ regeneration. Specifically, work is done on the bioartificial production of functional rat lungs by means of the re-cellularization of the extracellular matrix of the organ with stem cells, and recreation of the mechanical pulmonary micro-nano environment, to optimize cell differentiation.
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