From skin stem cells, scientists found a breakthrough when they’ve grown the first muscle cells that are fully functioning which can help better understand muscular diseases and how to treat them.
The skin cells were reprogrammed to revert back to its pluripotent or original state, and flooded them with Pax7, as substance that encourages the cells to grow into muscle cells, where from there they grew muscles.
Present and Future of Stem Cells
Biomedical engineer Lingjun Rao from Duke University stated that they took years of taking small steps and numerous trials and errors of trying to grow pluripotent stem cells into muscle cells until they finally succeeded.
The team nourished and provided structural support to their creation which allowed it to grow into full functioning muscles that respond to electrical and chemical signals similar to live muscles. The scientists implanted these muscles into mice where it began to integrate into the existing muscles of the mice – though not as strong as the natural muscles from the mice, it functioned well within.
Their new work opens up the potential to study rare diseases as per prof. Nenad Bursac who co-contributed to the study. Their previous experiments have grown successfully immature muscle cells called myoblasts into muscle. But the procedure would require harvesting muscle tissues from patients with muscular diseases which in this case would only cause more damage. Wherein their new work will remove the need to bring harm to the patients and simply grow muscles from other types of tissue like blood or skin that has been reverted back to its pluripotent state.
Functioning muscle fibers can be grown to an endless amount using this method from just a small sample of tissue according to Bursac.
Many studies about stem cells have pointed out the potential benefits that it can bring like creating a constant supply of blood or even reversing the process of aging.
Though stem cell therapy is still experimental to this point and their clinical applications would still require more proof of success.
This new finding on growing healthy muscles can help patients with muscular genetic diseases grown healthy muscles.