Lab-engineered muscle implants show promise to help repair muscle tissue
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WINSTON-SALEM — New research shows lab-engineered muscle implants can help restore and repair muscle tissue in animals.
The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is in the research phase of a therapy which could replace diseased or damaged muscle tissue. George Christ, of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said the purpose of this research is to help the body grow new muscle.
"Skeletal muscle has an incredible capacity for regeneration, as any athlete or anyone who watches athletes knows, but you do get to a point where you get a significant amount of muscle damage that the muscle can't repair itself," said Christ.
According to Christ, one in every 700 babies worldwide are born with a cleft lip or palette and muscle implants could help.
"In about 20-30 percent of those patients you can't get complete recovery without restoration of the muscle so this would provide the potential solution for new therapy for that," said Christ.
The process involves taking a small piece of tissue from a patient, expanding it into millions of cells and placing them onto strips of biodegradable material.
"We then put them into our bio-reactor and in the bio-reactor, what's going on is there's stretch going on which then strengthens the muscles into more mature muscle fibers," said Hannah Baker, a graduate student studying biomedical engineering.
The result is an implant which can help repair and regenerate damaged muscles. Eventually, their end goal is to use the therapy for more complex injuries.
"To repair and restore wounded warriors on the battlefield who have suffered traumatic muscle loss," said Christ.
A large part of the funding comes from the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health. The research team will show their findings to the Federal Drug Administration, this fall.