Biomaterials and computation: a strategic alliance to investigate emergent responses of neural cells
Topographical and chemical cues drive migration, outgrowth and regeneration of neurons in different and crucial biological conditions. In the natural extracellular matrix, their influences are so closely coupled that they result in complex cellular responses. As a consequence, engineered biomaterials are widely used to simplify in vitro conditions, disentangling intricate in vivo behaviours, and narrowing the investigation on particular emergent responses. Nevertheless, how topographical and chemical cues affect the emergent response of neural cells is still unclear, thus in silico models are used as additional tools to reproduce and investigate the interactions between cells and engineered biomaterials. This work aims at presenting the synergistic use of biomaterials-based experiments and computation as a strategic way to promote the discovering of complex neural responses as well as to allow the interactions between cells and biomaterials to be quantitatively investigated, fostering a rational design of experiments.