Artificial Muscles Created Out of Stem Cells

A significant problem encountered in the elderly is the loss of muscle mass and strength.  Death of muscles cells underlies this condition known as sarcopenia, which contributes to weakness and disability in the aged.

New research by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a company called CellThera has led to the creation of functional muscle tissue from human stem cells.

The scientists were able to induce adult human muscle cells to regress into a stem cell state.  The reprogrammed cells were then seeded onto biopolymer microthreads made of fibrin.

The cells then divided and differentiated on the threads in a process seemingly accelerated by the polymer.  Through this process, large swaths of functioning muscle tissue were created.

The researchers placed the engineered muscle tissue into injured muscles n mice where they restored nearly all the motor function in the animals.

“We are pleased with the progress of this work, and frankly we were surprised by the level of muscle regeneration that was achieved,” said Raymond Page, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at WPI, chief scientific officer at CellThera, and corresponding author on the paper.

This technique could be useful in restoring function in patients with muscle injury, but the method could also potentially be useful in sarcopenia.

Reprogrammed muscle stem cells could be made from a subject’s muscles and then injected back unto place where they could divide and improve function.

Source (Eurekalert)

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