Turning Skin Cells into Muscle Cells, Boon for Muscular Disease Treatments

As indicated by a new study, researchers have developed the first functioning human muscle from skin cells. The study was published in Nature Communications.

Specialists say, this paves the way for research into diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which causes muscles to wither away, as it isn’t ethical to take muscle samples from the patient that can lead to further damage.

Biomedical scientists had already succeeded in growing human muscle tissue from muscle cells in 2015. Nonetheless, the new research by Duke University scientists showed that it was possible to do same with adult non-muscle tissues such as skin or blood.

Into adult mice, they could implant the newly grown muscle fibres and demonstrate that they survive and function for no less than three weeks while integrating into the existing tissue.

Nenad Bursac, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University said, “Beginning with pluripotent stem cells that are not muscle cells, but rather can become all existing cells in our body, myogenic progenitor cells allow us to grow an unlimited number.”

Prof Bursac said, “These progenitor cells resemble adult muscle stem cells called ‘satellite cells’ that can theoretically grow an entire muscle starting from a single cell”.

As they grow, the pluripotent stem cells were being filled with a molecule called Pax7, which instructs the cells to begin becoming muscle.

With this technique, small samples of non-muscle tissue, like skin or blood, can be engineered to revert to a pluripotent state, and eventually grow an endless amount of functioning muscle fibres to test explained Prof Bursac.

The achievement was because of the use of unique cell culture conditions and a 3D matrix that allowed the cells to develop and grow significantly faster and longer than the 2D approach that is typically utilized, said Professor Lingjun Roa, a postdoctoral scientist and first author of the study.

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