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Extracellular Matrix (ECM)

The extracellular matrix (ECM), as the name would suggest, is a network of material (matrix) that is found surrounding cells (extra-cellular). ECM is the non-cellular component of all tissue and organs, usually composed of a collection of proteins. Not only does it provide physical structural support that cells bind to, ECM also provides mechanical and biochemical cues that guide cell behaviour. Cells that reside within each organ produce, maintain, and regulate their own matrix. This makes the composition of the ECM in each tissue uniquely different from others. A large part of tissue engineering is to better understand how extracellular matrix affects cell behavior and using them to help us engineer better tissues.

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