Washington: In a major breakthrough in the field of medical research, biomedical engineers have grown self-healing muscle in the laboratory for the first time.
The strong, lab-grown muscle contracts powerfully and rapidly, integrates into mice quickly, and demonstrates the ability to heal itself both inside the laboratory and inside an animal.
The study conducted at Duke University tested the bioengineered muscle by literally watching it through a window on the back of living mouse. The novel technique allowed for real-time monitoring of the muscle's integration and maturation inside a living, walking animal.
Both the lab-grown muscle and experimental techniques are important steps toward growing viable muscle for studying diseases and treating injuries, Nenad Bursac, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke, said.
Through years of perfecting their techniques, a team led by Bursac and graduate student Mark Juhas discovered that preparing better muscle requires two things: well-developed contractile muscle fibers and a pool of muscle stem cells, known as satellite cells.
Every muscle has satellite cells on reserve, ready to activate upon injury and begin the regeneration process. The key to the team's success was successfully creating the microenvironments, called niches, where these stem cells await their call to duty.
The engineers are now beginning work to see if their biomimetic muscle can be used to repair actual muscle injuries and disease.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.