Growing muscle for lab-based testing is a difficult process, and previous attempts to do so– utilizing plastic scaffolds– have actually cannot produce fully-formed muscle fibers. Now, a group from the University of Southern California (USC) has actually taken a different method, using gelatin and a water-logged gel, or “hydrogel,” as a scaffold.
This brand-new research is the latest in a series of “on-a-chip” efforts that have seen researchers create lab-based versions of everything from lungs to working designs of heart disease. The concept is to produce systems in the laboratory that properly replicate organs and other tissue, allowing scientists to perform research studies and craft new medications with absolutely no danger to patient health.
During embryonic development, muscles form around the skeletal system when cells called myoblasts join together to create fibers called myotubes. Scientists have actually tried to recreate the procedure in the laboratory, attempting to grow mouse myotubes on small plastic structures, however the fibers just won’t grip and hold onto the product, slipping away after simply one week, and failing to grow as wanted.
To obtain around the problem, the USC scientists chose to attempt growing the fibers on a different type of scaffold, utilizing a hydrogel made from gelatin– a derivative of naturally happening muscle protein, collagen– instead of plastic.
Though the gel is mainly comprised of water, its mechanical homes are more much like those of the natural growth environment; as it is a natural biomaterial, cells are more likely to stay with it and grow as regular.
The material appears to have carried out well in the USC research study. After three weeks, the researchers observed that the mouse myotubes were firmly attached to the hydrogel scaffold, growing larger, longer, and usually crafting as hoped.
While further study is certainly required, the researchers believe that human myotubes could be grown utilizing the very same approach, on gelatin chips. Such “muscles-on-a-chip” could then be utilized to study muscle development, and be utilized as a platform for drug testing.
“By creating an inexpensive and accessible platform for studying skeletal muscle in the laboratory, we hope to enable research that will usher in new treatments for these patients,” said USC’s assistant professor, and research study lead, Megan McCain.