Congratulations to Erik Vrij who has received an NWO Open Competition Grant for his project entitled "A force for fertility". The research will focus on the use of synthetic hydrogels to investigate the effect of material mechanical and dynamical properties on trophoblast invasion behavior. He will be collaborating with MERLN's Matt Baker.
A bit more info on the project:
For a pregnancy to be successful, the embryo must implant into the uterus wall and form the placenta, which will provide the embryo with nutrients and oxygen, and removes waste products. However, in a range of reproductive disorders, formation of the placenta is impeded due to altered mechanical properties (e.g., stiffness) of the uterus tissue. Here, we will model these conditions by culturing placental cells in novel hydrogels that are rationally designed to tune the mechanical and dynamical properties. This will identify the uterus tissue regimes that foster placenta formation and open new experimental avenues to model and treat infertility.