Scientists have succeeded in growing living muscle in the laboratory. The muscle looks and operates like real muscles and it is able to heal by itself. This is a huge step in the process of tissue engineering.
The main aim of this process is to use the muscle grown in the lab to repair damage caused in human muscle.
The trials for this research have thus far only been tested on mice.
Researchers at Duke University have attributed their success to the creation of the perfect muscle growing environment. They made use of developed contractile muscle fibres, with a bunch of immature stem cells to develop the tissue.
During the tests, researchers found that the muscle grown in the lab was strong and had the ability to contract, but, above all, it was able to self-repair by using the satellite cells after it was damaged by the researchers using a toxin.
When this muscle was grafted into the mice, it seemed to integrate extremely well with the surrounding tissue and continued doing the job it was supposed to.
Scientists have stated that further testing is necessary before the results could be used on humans. They are excited about this advancement in this field as it is the first time that engineered muscle with the contraction ability of a newborn skeletal muscle has been made successfully.
Professor Mark Lewis, an expert in skeletal muscle tissue engineering, from Loughborough University has stated that there have been several instances where muscles have been grown in the lab and indicated that it can behave in ways that are normally seen in the body. However, continuing function of the transplanted muscles in a living creature has been taken to the next level with this research.
The scientific community holds great hope that regenerative medicine will be transformed with the use of stem cells.
Image credit: Tareq Salahuddin