Table of Contents
In a new laboratory study performed by Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, researchers have revealed they were able to grow the first ever human skeletal muscle that contracts in response to external stimuli. The muscle tissue responds to electrical stimulation and pharmaceutical medications. The team of scientists says their creation paves the way for testing new drugs and the study of diseases without the risk of endangering a person’s health.
What Is It?
Study leader Nenad Bursac an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University feels the work can serve as a testing ground for clinical trials in a test tube. Medical scientists are working to test drug’s efficacy and safety, without putting a person in any peril.
Dr Bursac and his team say there is a strong focus on developing in vitro models for use in medical testing because it could decrease animal testing and it may improve the result for human beings as well. The study first appeared in the January 2015 edition of the open access journal called "eLife".
How Is The Muscle Built?
Nenad Bursac and Lauran Madden, a post-doctoral research colleague, began the experiment by taking a small sample of human cells that had already been processed beyond stem cells, but had not yet become muscle tissue. The team expanded these "myogenic precursors" more than a thousand times and then placed them into a supportive three-dimensional scaffolding for support. The cells were then filled with a nourishing gel that let them form aligned and efficient muscle fibers.
Madden stated: "We have a lot of experience making bioartificial muscles from animal cells in the laboratory, and it still took us a year of adjusting variables like cell and gel density and optimizing the culture matrix and media to make this work with human muscle cells." Dr Madden also added that she subjected the new muscle tissue to a variety of different tests to figure out just how closely it mimicked native tissue inside the human body.
Use For Medical Testing
To determine if the muscle tissue is viable for medical testing, Dr. Bursac and Dr. Madden studied its responsiveness to a variety of medications. These medications included statins used to lower cholesterol levels, as well as clenbuterol, a drug that is used off label as a performance enhancing substance for athletes.
When used on the muscle tissue, the effects of these drugs were the same as what is witnessed in human patients. The statin drugs had a dose-dependent reaction, causing atypical fatty buildup at high levels. Clenbuterol had a slight beneficial window for increasing muscle contractions. However, both of these effects have been documented in human patients.
Clenbuterol does not wind up causing damage to the muscle tissue in mice at those dosages, thus proving the laboratory tissues were exhibiting a response that would be the same as in humans.