A team of scientists from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and CellThera, a private company located in WPI’s Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center, have regenerated functional muscle tissue in mice, opening the door for a new clinical therapy to treat people who suffer major muscle trauma.
The team used a novel protocol to coax mature human muscle cells into a stem cell-like state and grew those reprogrammed cells on biopolymer microthreads. The threads were placed in a wound created by surgically removing a large section of leg muscle from a mouse. Over time, the threads and cells restored near-normal function to the muscle, as reported in the paper “Restoration of Skeletal Muscle Defects with Adult Human Cells Delivered on Fibrin Microthreads”, published in the current issue of the journal Tissue Engineering. Surprisingly, the microthreads, which were used simply as a scaffold to support the reprogrammed human cells, actually seemed to accelerate the regeneration process by recruiting progenitor mouse muscle cells, suggesting that they alone could become a therapeutic tool for treating major muscle trauma.