Scientists for first time grow skeletal muscle tissue from stem cells

In a world first, biomedical engineers from Duke University have created the first functioning human skeletal muscle from pluripotent stem cells, which are capable of producing any form of body cell or tissue. Published January 9 in Nature Communications, this work builds upon work by researchers at Duke in 2015, in which they were able to grow working human muscle tissue from cells extracted in muscle biopsies.

Starting with pluripotent stem cells that are not muscle cells, but can become all existing cells in our body, allows us to grow an unlimited number of myogenic progenitor cells,” said Nenad Bursac, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University, in a press release. “These progenitor cells resemble adult muscle stem cells called ‘satellite cells’ that can theoretically grow an entire muscle starting from a single cell.

This successful development could have staggering medical applications in terms of research, furthering understanding through models of rare diseases, and treatment options for muscle damage. The researchers hope they might be able to use the stem cell-derived tissue for regenerative therapies or in combination with genetic therapy, which could fix malfunctions in a patient’s stem cells and then grow new patches of completely healthy muscle.

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