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Crowding causes cells to produce an orderly matrix of molecules

When researchers conduct experiments on the way cells grow and respond to outside cues, they tend to use solutions that are much more dilute than the crowded environments found inside living cells. Now, new research from MIT shows that this dilute environment may skew the results of such experiments.

Using a technique that more closely mimics the crowded environment in actual cells, researchers found that certain molecules “organize more like we would expect they would in the body,” says Krystyn Van Vliet, the Paul M. Cook Career Development Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. The research isdescribed this week in the journal PLoS ONE, in a paper co-authored by Van Vliet.

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