Scientists grow human muscle in lab
For the first time, scientists have created in the laboratory a fully-functioning human skeletal muscle that responds to electrical impulses and drugs.
The development of this in vitro model, described in a study published in the journal eLife, opens up opportunities to test new treatments and study diseases without putting a patient's health at risk or requiring testing on animals.
For this study, researchers isolated “myogenic precursors” from human muscle biopsies. These are cells that have not yet developed into muscle tissue, but have moved beyond the stem cell stage. Then they increased the number of these myogenic precursors by more than 1,000 before subjecting them to a “hydrogel molding technique” originally created for rodent cells. This involved placing the cells into a 3D scaffolding consisting of a hydrogel, which allowed the cells to become functioning muscle tissue that the researchers call “myobundles.” The team then subjected the myobundles to electrical pulses and found that they contracted, a response not seen before in lab-grown human muscle.
The team wants to use their lab-grown human muscle to develop personalized medication for patients with muscle-related conditions.