Scientists grow first ever contracting human muscle in a lab dish

Posted: January 16, 2015 at 7:46 pm

In a new study, researchers from Duke University in Durham, NC, reveal they have grown the first ever human skeletal muscle that contracts in response to external stimuli, such as electrical impulses and pharmaceuticals. The team says their creation paves the way for testing of new drugs and the study of diseases without having to put a patients heath at risk.

This is a microscopic view of the lab-grown human muscle.

Image credit: Duke University

The beauty of this work is that it can serve as a test bed for clinical trials in a dish, says study leader Nenad Bursac, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke.

We are working to test drugs efficacy and safety without jeopardizing a patients health and also to reproduce the functional and biochemical signals of diseases especially rare ones and those that make taking muscle biopsies difficult.

Bursac and his team says there is a strong focus on the development of in vitro models for use in medical research, motivated by ethical factors such as reducing animal testing and the need to improve health outcomes in human patients.

In June last year, Medical News Today reported on the creation of lab-grown miniature human hearts by researchers from Abertay University in the UK, while another study revealed how researchers from the University of Texas successfully grew human lungs from the cells of deceased children.

But Bursac and his team say while much progress has been made in creating in vitro models for liver, lung and cardiac tissues, there has been little progress toward the development of human skeletal muscle.

This is of particular concern as there are a wide range of metabolic, neuromuscular and dystrophic disorders involving skeletal muscle that are under investigation and still lacking therapies, they note.

Lab-grown muscle closely mimics responses of native human muscle

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Scientists grow first ever contracting human muscle in a lab dish

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