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Published on : Jan 10, 2018

Biomedical engineers from the Duke University have successfully grown human muscles from non-muscle cells in one of the first such instances in human history. Skin cells were used for the experiment, which were reversed to their primitive stage of stem cells. This experiment shows the ability of biomedicine to use non-muscle tissues and grow muscle cells and could make cellular therapies and genome editing much easier. This ability could also allow the scientific world to design and produce more specific models of several muscle diseases for biological research and drug discovery purposes.

This study is an advance on an earlier study that was published in 2015. In the previous experiment, researchers were able to grow the first functional set of human muscle tissues from cells that were picked from muscle biopsies. The ‘myoblasts’ used had grown past the stage of stem cells but were not mature muscle fibers yet. The scientists grew the myoblasts in many folds and then transferred them into a supportive 3-D platform that was filled with a variety of nourishing gel. The entire setup led to the development of functioning and aligned human muscles.

In the new experiment, however, researchers used pluripotent stem cells from the human body. The cells were then reprogrammed to transform into a primitive state. The primitive cells thus developed are then again subjected to environment promising to growth while being constantly fed the molecule Pax7, which signals the primitive cells to start transforming into muscle tissues. The result was tissues that were very similar to, but not as robust as, the stem cells in adult muscles.