Washington: Scientists have successfully grown leg muscle from engineered cells in a dish.
Researchers from Italy, Israel and the United Kingdom teamed up to generate mature, functional skeletal muscles in mice using a new approach for tissue engineering to produce a graft. The subsequent graft was implanted close to a normal, contracting skeletal muscle where the new muscle was nurtured and grown. In time, the method could allow for patient-specific treatments for a large number of muscle disorders.
The scientists used muscle precursor cells - mesoangioblasts - grown in the presence of a hydrogel (support matrix) in a tissue culture dish. After the graft was implanted onto the surface of the skeletal muscle underneath the skin of the mouse, mature muscle fibres formed a complete and functional muscle within several weeks. Replacing a damaged muscle with the graft also resulted in a functional artificial muscle very similar to a normal Tibialis anterior.
Cesare Gargioli of the University of Rome, one of the lead authors of the study, said that the morphology and the structural organisation of the artificial organ were extremely similar to if not indistinguishable from a natural skeletal muscle.
In future, irreversibly damaged muscles could be restored by implanting the patient's own cells within the hydrogel matrix on top of a residual muscle, adjacent to the damaged area.
The results are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.