A groundbreaking discovery could renew hope in patients suffering from degenerative muscle diseases. North Carolina’s Duke Institute recently announced that a team of scientists managed to grow functional human muscle tissue using induced pluripotent stem cells. Lab trials on mice yielded encouraging results.
Could Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Actually Create Muscle Tissue?
The common denominator of Duke Institute’s experiment is the IPSC or induced pluripotent stem cells. These are the house-bred stem cells, which share similar functions and chemical properties with their natural-occurring counterparts.
As we know, stem cells have been employed tissue regeneration in the past. Although a controversial practice, stem cell-based therapies have yielded most encouraging results, most of them being attributed to the stem cell’s innate ability to take the place of any type of cell.
Using these induced pluripotent stem cells, the team of scientists from the Duke Institute managed to grow functional human muscle tissue with the aid of a 3D scaffolding technique. Under the glass, these new types of lab-grown tissue behave in almost the same way as its natural peer.
The nature of this experiment was to transform induced pluripotent cells into skeletal muscle walls. Although far-fetched, according to Lingjun Rao, the study’s co-author, the lab-bred cells have proved to be efficient in replacing natural-occurring muscle tissue in lab rats.
When asked about this amazing breakthrough, Rao had this to comment:
It’s taken years of trial and error, making educated guesses and taking baby steps to finally produce functioning human muscle from pluripotent stem cells.
However, the experiment is still in its infancy, as the stem cell-born skeletal muscle wall was observed to be weaker than the natural one. Aside from this minor inconsistency, the muscle walls seem to react to common stimuli such as chemical signals or electrical impulses.
Nenad Bursac, chief research officer, stated that the doctors might soon have a new weapon in the war against degenerative muscle diseases. It’s far from being a treatment, the scientist added, but it’s a step in the right direction.