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Human muscle that contracts is made in laboratory

By Tim Sandle     Jan 24, 2015 in Science
Scientists have successfully grown a human skeletal muscle that contracts and responds similarly to natural body tissue to electrical pulses. The laboratory development is designed to help researchers study new drugs.
The research was performed at Duke University. The motivation behind the study was to create human tissue sensitive enough to be used for drug experimentation. One school of thought is of the view that using human tissue to test new pharmaceuticals is more effective and more realistic than using animals. This relates to the way that tissue reacts to biochemical signals.
To develop the super-reactive muscle, the researchers took a sample of human cells that had been enabled to develop beyond stem cells but were at a stage where they had not yet formed into muscle tissue. These cells are termed "myogenic precursors." These cells were next placed into a bespoke designed three-dimensional scaffolding. This structure was enriched with a nourishing gel that triggered the cells to form functioning muscle fibers. This muscle was termed a “bioartifical muscle.”
To explore the potential of the new muscle, the researchers undertook a series of tests to assess how closely it resembled tissue that would naturally have been formed inside a human body.
The muscle was found to contract in response to electrical stimuli, which indicated that the nerves needed to activate the muscle were operational. The muscle was also examined to see how it responded to a range of different drugs. These included statins, which are medications for lowering cholesterol. Good news for the researchers: the effects of the drugs matched those seen in human patients.
The researchers are particularly hopeful that the development can be used to develop personalized medicine for patients. This involves creating specific medications for people, rather than administering generic products that may or may not be effective for each person due to differences in a person’s physiology and biochemistry.
The research findings have been published in the journal eLife. The study is titled “Bioengineered human myobundles mimic clinical responses of skeletal muscle to drugs.”
More about human skeletal muscle, Tissue, Electricity, Stimulus, Laboratory
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