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Muscle implants regenerate damaged tissues

Washington: Lab-engineered muscle implants can help regenerate and repair damaged or lost muscle tissue, resulting in significant improvement in mice studies.

"While the body has a capacity to repair small defects in skeletal muscle, the only option for larger defects is to surgically move muscle from one part of the body to another," said George Christ, professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre`s Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

"This is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Rather than moving existing muscle, our aim is to help the body grow new muscle," added Christ, the journal Tissue Engineering Part A reports.

Building on their prior work, Christ and his team demonstrated that placing cells derived from muscle tissue on a strip of biocompatible material - and then "exercising" the strip in the lab - results in a muscle-like implant that can prompt muscle regeneration and significant functional recovery, according to a Wake Forest statement.

This cyclic stretching and relaxation occurred three times per minute for the first five minutes of each hour for about a week. In the current study, the scientists tried several different protocols, such as adding more cells to the strips during the exercise process.

"If these same results were repeated in humans, the recovery in function would clearly be considered significant," said Christ. "Within two months after implantation, the force generated by the repaired muscle is 70 percent that of native tissue, compared to 30 percent in animals that didn`t receive repair."

The results also showed that new muscle tissue developed both in the implant as well as in the area where the implant and native tissue met, suggesting that the implant works by accelerating the body`s natural healing response, as well as by prompting the growth of new muscle tissue.

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