Some exciting developments are being made in the medical and fitness sector, and few things top the revelation that muscle can not only be grown artificially, but can also heal itself should it become injured! The process by which this is done is known as tissue engineering, and it is hoped that these new developments may help with the repair of tissue damage in humans.
Ideal environment to grow muscle
The findings of this study were presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and so far the results are encouraging in mice. The researchers were apparently able to create the ideal environment in which to grow muscle and muscle stem cells that could develop into muscle tissue. Having achieved this the researchers were able to grow muscle like tissue that looked and functioned like muscle, which was strong and contractile and was even able to repair itself when researchers damaged it with a toxin.
Grafted into mice
When it was grafted into mice i.e. inserted into their muscle and encouraged to integrate, the muscle bound to the rest of the surrounding tissue as hoped. Although this is very promising the results will only become groundbreaking when the transition is proven from mice to humans, then we may be onto something absolutely revolutionary! Either way, the muscle they have built proves to be a major advancement in the in the field.
First of its kind
This is apparently the first time in the history of genetically modified tissue that a muscle has been made that can contract, and contract forcefully. Despite the promise of this artificial muscle, the muscle has only been seen to contract as forcefully as a neonate i.e. a new born baby, but this is still amazing progress in this field.
UK expert in skeletal muscle tissue engineering Prof Mark Lewis, from Loughborough University, said: "A number of researchers have 'grown' muscles in the laboratory and shown that they can behave in similar ways to that seen in the human body. However, transplantation of these grown muscles into a living creature, which continue to function as if they were native muscle has been taken to the next level by the current work."
This is a step in the right direction, in every direction regarding regenerative medicine! If the researchers can transform stem cells into any type of tissue then this would be very exciting. However researchers acknowledge that cures and treatments and several years away. Watch this space!
BBC News Health, (2014). Self healing muscle grown in the lab. Retrieved 8th April, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26821080