Polymer nanofibres form a new skeletal muscle tissue model to study disease, treatments and regeneration
Building muscles in the body is all about eating greens and doing the right exercise. But how do you build muscles in the lab instead? Realistic recreations that mimic muscle biology would help enable investigations into disease, but attempts have struggled to approximate the extracellular matrix that surrounds the muscle-forming myofibres, supporting their function and structure. A new approach weaves electrospun elastic nanofibres (pictured after tests of the tensile strength of two different approaches to aligning the fibres) to build a scaffold on which muscle tissue can grow from starter cells (stem cells). The researchers genetically modified the growing muscle cells to contract in response to light, widening the range of scenarios the testing platform represents. This should allow investigations into the details of muscle diseases and drugs that may treat them, as well as providing a potential platform to grow replacement muscle tissue.
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