DONATE

Integrative cell and tissue dynamics

About

We aim at understanding how physical forces and molecular control modules cooperate to drive biological function.

We develop new technologies to map and perturb the main physical properties that determine how cells and tissues grow, move, invade and remodel.

By combining this physical information with systematic molecular perturbations and computational models we explore the principles that govern the interplay between chemical and physical cues in living tissues.
We study how these principles are regulated in physiology and development, and how they are derailed in cancer and aging.

Making cellular forces visible

To study cell and tissue dynamics we develop new technologies to measure physical forces at the cell-cell and cell-matrix interface. By combining these technologies with computational analysis of cell shape and velocity we obtain a full experimental characterization of epithelial dynamics during tissue growth, wound healing and cancer cell invasion.

Tumour invasion by stromal forces

Cancer cell invasion and metastasis remain the leading cause of death in patients with cancer. Both processes are the result of a complex interaction between tumor cells and their microenvironment. One of our main lines of research is to study how tumours exploit the functions of non-cancer cells in their microenvironment to invade and metastasize. We focus on the interaction between epithelial cancer cells and Cancer Associated Fibroblasts (CAFs), the most abundant cell type in the tumour stroma.

Optogenetics to control cell mechanics

The recent development of optogenetic technologies offers promising possibilities to control signalling pathways with high spatiotemporal resolution. By expressing genetically encoded light-sensitive proteins, optogenetic technology enables the reversible perturbation of intracellular biochemistry with subcellular resolution. We have developed optogenetic tools based on controlling the activity of endogenous RhoA to upregulate or downregulate cell contractility and to control cell shape and mechanotransduction.

Collective durotaxis: a mechanism for cellular guidance by mechanical cues

Directed cell migration is one of the earliest observations in cell biology, dating back to the late XIX century. Also known as taxis, directed cell migration has been commonly associated with chemotaxis, i.e. the ability of a broad variety of cell types to migrate following gradients of chemical factors. We recently demonstrated a new mode of collective cell guidance by mechanical cues, called collective durotaxis. This new migration mode emerges only in cell collectives and, strikingly, does not require isolated cells to exhibit gradient sensing.

Organoid mechanobiology

Organoids are large multicellular structures that self-organize in vitro and maintain a similar organization and functionality than the organ from which they are derived. Organoids from many organs have now been obtained from embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells and organ progenitors. We use intestinal and kidney organoids to study how epithelia adopt three-dimensional shapes that closely resemble their structure in vivo. We also use organoids grown from primary tumors to understand how epithelial structure and function are lost with disease progression.

Engineering epithelial shape and mechanics from the bottom up

We develop new approaches to engineer epithelia in 3D. Using these approaches, we study the principles that govern the emergence of tissue shape from the bottom up. We recently found that epithelial sheets can stretch up to four times their initial area without breaking, and that they are able to recover their initial size in a fully reversible way when unstretched. Surprisingly, some cells in the tissue barely stretch, while others become ‘superstretched’, increasing their area more than ten times. We call this phenomenon ‘active superelasticity’.

Staff

Projects

NATIONAL PROJECTSFINANCERPI
mGRADIENTMecanobiología de la migración colectiva durante la haptotaxis y la durotaxis: aplicación a los organoides intestinales (2019-2022)MICIU Generación Conocimiento: Proyectos I+DXavier Trepat
DYNAGELHidrogeles biocompatibles con rigidez dinámicamente ajustable para estudiar la mecanobiología de células y tejidos (2019-2022)MICIU Retos investigación: Proyectos I+DRaimon Sunyer
INTERNATIONAL PROJECTSFINANCERPI
EpiFold Engineering epithelial shape and mechanics: from synthetic morphogenesis to biohybrid devices (2021-2025)European Commission, ERC-AdGXavier Trepat
The role of intermediate filaments in stress resistance in 3D epithelial structures (2021-2023)Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Walter Benjamin-Programme Tom Golde
Mechano·Control Mechanical control of biological function (2017-2022)European Commission, FET ProactiveXavier Trepat
Control of cell collective flows and tissue folding by means of surface patterns (2021-2022)Human Frontier Science Program, HFSP Beca postdoctoral 
 
Pau Guillamat
PRIVATELY-FUNDED PROJECTSFINANCERPI
Mech4Cancer · Enabling technologies to map nuclear mechanosensing: from organoids to tumors (2020-2023)Obra Social La Caixa: Health Research CallXavier Trepat
T cell exclusion during cancer immune evasion and immunotherapy failure: cell types, transcriptional programs and biomechanics (2020-2023)Fundació La Marató de TV3Xavier Trepat
Joint Programme Healthy AgeingObra Social La CaixaXavier Trepat
Understanding and measuring mechanical tumor properties to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survival: Application to liquid biopsies (2017-2022)Obra Social La CaixaXavier Trepat
FINISHED PROJECTSFINANCERPI
OPTOLEADER Optogenetic control of leader cell mechanobiology during collective cell migration (2019-2021)European Commission, MARIE CURIE – IF Leone Rossetti
MECHANOIDS Probing and controlling the three-dimensional organoid mechanobiology (2019-2021)European Commission, MARIE CURIE – IF Manuel Gómez
TensionControl Multiscale regulation of epithelial tension (2015-2020)European Commission, ERC – CoGXavier Trepat
El mecanoma de la adhesión epitelial: mecanismos de detección, resistencia y transmisión de fuerzas intercelularesMINECO, I+D-Investigación fundamental no orientadaXavier Trepat
MICROGRADIENTPAGE Micro Gradient Polyacrylamide Gels for High Throughput Electrophoresis AnalysisEuropean Commission, ERC-PoCXavier Trepat
GENESFORCEMOTION Physical Forces Driving Collective Cell Migration: from Genes to MechanismEuropean Commission, ERC-StGXavier Trepat
CAMVAS Coordination and migration of cells during 3D Vasculogenesis (2014-2017)European Commission, MARIE CURIE – IOFXavier Trepat
DUROTAXIS Mecanobiología de la durotaxis: de las células aisladas a los tejidosMINECO, Proyectos I+D ExcelenciaXavier Trepat

Publications

Equipment

  • Soft Lithography
  • Micro/Nano fabrication
  • Cell stretching
  • Live Confocal Microcopy
  • Magnetic Tweezers
  • Magnetic Twisting Cytometry
  • Monolayer stress microscopy
  • Traction microscopy

Collaborations

  • Julien Colombelli / Eduard Batlle
    Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) Barcelona
  • Marino Arroyo
    Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona
  • Guillaume Charras / Roberto Mayor
    University College London, UK
  • Erik Sahai
    Cancer Research, UK
  • Benoit Ladoux
    Université Paris 7, France
  • Jim Butler & Jeff Fredberg
    Harvard University, Boston
  • Danijela Vignjevic
    Institut Curie, Paris
  • Jonel Trebicka
    Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Frankfurt

News

The prize recognises the research work of Trepat, ICREA Research Professor at IBEC. These awards, presented by the Valencian Foundation Rei Jaume I Awards, aim to bring science and business closer together in order to promote research, scientific development and entrepreneurship in Spain.

Xavier Trepat receives the Rei Jaume I Award in the Biomedical Research category

The prize recognises the research work of Trepat, ICREA Research Professor at IBEC. These awards, presented by the Valencian Foundation Rei Jaume I Awards, aim to bring science and business closer together in order to promote research, scientific development and entrepreneurship in Spain.

IBEC ICREA Professor Xavier Trepat has been awarded the Lilly Foundation Award in the category of preclinical research. With this accolade, the Fundación Lilly acknowledges Trepat’s work, distinguished by the application of techniques and concepts from physics to the health sciences.

Xavier Trepat Wins the Lilly Foundation Award for Biomedical Research 2024

IBEC ICREA Professor Xavier Trepat has been awarded the Lilly Foundation Award in the category of preclinical research. With this accolade, the Fundación Lilly acknowledges Trepat’s work, distinguished by the application of techniques and concepts from physics to the health sciences.

Teresa Sanchis and Xavier Trepat, members of IBEC, have authored opinion pieces in the ‘World View’ section of Nature Physics. Both articles underscore IBEC’s dedication to scientific excellence, the promotion of diversity, and the cultivation of an environment conducive to collaboration. They also highlight the relevant role of IBEC at the international level in multidisciplinary research.

The interdisciplinarity of IBEC showcased in the opinion section of Nature Physics

Teresa Sanchis and Xavier Trepat, members of IBEC, have authored opinion pieces in the ‘World View’ section of Nature Physics. Both articles underscore IBEC’s dedication to scientific excellence, the promotion of diversity, and the cultivation of an environment conducive to collaboration. They also highlight the relevant role of IBEC at the international level in multidisciplinary research.

An installation featured in the exhibition “A=A, B=B” at the Antoni Tàpies Foundation will provide live access to the laboratories of IBEC. A window from which visitors will have the opportunity to see how researchers carry out their research projects, as if it were a genuine performance of scientific innovation. 

Bioengineering Becomes Art at the Antoni Tàpies Museum

An installation featured in the exhibition “A=A, B=B” at the Antoni Tàpies Foundation will provide live access to the laboratories of IBEC. A window from which visitors will have the opportunity to see how researchers carry out their research projects, as if it were a genuine performance of scientific innovation. 

A study led by the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia demonstrates that laminin, a protein present in breast tissues, prevents the effects of stiffening, protecting cells against tumor growth. While the mechanism has been demonstrated in vitro, persuasive indications suggest its potential applicability in vivo, as observed in patient samples.

Preventing the tissue’s response to stiffness may be key to slowing the progression of breast tumors

A study led by the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia demonstrates that laminin, a protein present in breast tissues, prevents the effects of stiffening, protecting cells against tumor growth. While the mechanism has been demonstrated in vitro, persuasive indications suggest its potential applicability in vivo, as observed in patient samples.

IBEC researchers uncover how mechanical forces disrupt the circadian clock in cells, the mechanism governing daily physiological changes. The finding may help to better understand aging and specific diseases, like … Read more

The internal clock of our cells is influenced by mechanical forces

IBEC researchers uncover how mechanical forces disrupt the circadian clock in cells, the mechanism governing daily physiological changes. The finding may help to better understand aging and specific diseases, like … Read more

1 2 3 6

Jobs