CRG researchers design a new method to probe tissues in living organisms

CRG researchers design a new method to probe tissues in living organisms

News from CRG

The formation of the embryo, from its very early stages of development is a complex choreography that is still a mystery to science. How each cell needed is decided and formed; how tissues develop correctly in order to eventually yield an entire organism together are processes ruled by biochemical signals, but also by mechanical signals.

Whereas the first type of signals has been studied in depth, the second type, mechanical signals, have remained unexplored for a long time due to the lack of methodologies capable of monitoring or affecting forces locally. Now, a team of scientists at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), led by Jérôme Solon, has developed a new method to address the self-organisation of embryonic development in animals. The methodology they have designed allows them to manipulate forces and to understand how cell or tissue mechanics can change during embryogenesis.

Another key point of the study is that the new method developed by the researchers allows them to study mechanical properties in vivo, in a living organism. They do this using magnetic forces, that can be applied from a distance, without any contact, at different moments, so that the embryo is not affected.

Interestingly, the new methodology could also be applied to probe the tissue mechanics of other processes such as wound healing or, for instance, cancer development, where the tumour’s mechanical properties are different to healthy tissues, potentially promoting the initiation of metastasis.


Arturo D’Angelo, Kai Dierkes, Carlo Carolis, Guillaume Salbreux, Jérôme Solon. In vivo force application reveals a fast tissue softening and external friction increase during early embryogenesis. Current Biology, April 25, 2019. DOI:

More information:
CRG website