Cellular Signalling and Biophysical Modelling


In Cellular Signalling and Biophysical Modelling, we focus on biotransport and regulatory networks between cells in living tissue.

Modelling of mass transport and cellular signalling is challenged by complex, heterogeneous structures of the involved media which creates a complex array of scales and interactions. Transport mechanisms range from diffusive processes and nano-scale machinery at the smallest scales, but shift to transport via liquid flow and macro machinery at larger scales.

Though dominated by subjects of relevance to biofilm infections, e.g. as seen in Cystic Fibrosis, our interests span wider. Examples of systems we are studying include

  • The Descemet membrane on the cornea of the human eye can detach during eye surgery. In a collaboration with Rigshospitalet, fluid dynamics models are used to study the potential for reattachement of the Descement membrane under ideal fluid-structure interaction.
  • The activation of selected regulatory proteins of importance in biofilm infections by binding of signal molecules (Quorum Sensing: LasR, RhlR, PqsR).
  • The aggressive collective behaviour of bacteria that can populate the human body.  After the establishment of a proper size measure of bacterial biofilm aggregates we now model the ignition of a collective state as a function of aggregate size and time.
  • We have demonstrated that hyperbaric oxygen treatment enhances the effect of antibiotics on biofilm infections in a model system of lung infections in cystic fibrosis. We currently model and measure this in detail with the aim to carry the results into clinical use.
  • Diffusion retardation and degradation properties of antibiotics in biofilm aggregates is currently being mapped systematically and adequate biofilm models are being established in close collaboration with biologists.
  • The stress response of cells to oxygen radicals (hydrogen peroxide) is studied. We have established that a combination of a fast mechanism of finite capacity in combination with a slower but sustainable degradation forms the total initial response to hydrogen peroxide.
  • We work closely with DTU Bioengineering to develop new imaging tools including super-resolution light microscopy for exploring the survival-mechanisms used by microbial biofilms.

The cellular signalling and biophysical modelling at BME involves Assistant Professor Emil Boye Kromann and Associate Professors Kaj-Åge Henneberg and Thomas Sams.

The work is performed in collaboration with biological experimentalists and MDs at DTU Bioengineering, Copenhagen University Hospital, University of Copenhagen, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Yale University, and Imperial College London.