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13 Oct 2015 0 Comments

Stem Cell Breakthrough: Muscle Stem Cells to Treat Muscular Dystrophy

Researchers at the University of California have conducted a study to understand the applications of stem cells in healing damaged muscles caused by muscle injury, aging, muscular dystrophy etc. They found that when muscle stem cells are injected to injured muscles, they can replicate and repair the damaged muscles effectively. The findings of this research study led by Jason Pomerantz, assistant professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UCSF was published in the Journal, Stem Cell Reports.

Generally, when muscles are damaged, they become incapable of healing due to the loss of native stem cell population in the affected area. In case of paralysis or muscle injury, the critical muscles lose their ability to restore the repair function. Although, surgeons can work on the restoring nerves in the affected muscle, stem cells are required for better recovery.

A special type of muscle stem cells called Satellite Cells can repair and regenerate tissue during injury. These satellite cells do not differentiate but gets activated due to mechanical stress. It was difficult to isolate the human satellite cells from the healthy tissue and use them on patients for muscle damage. During the study, researchers identified human satellite cells in surgical biopsies of muscle tissue using antibody staining method and isolated populations of these cells. The isolated cells are then grafted into mice which are designed with damaged muscles and depleted stem cell population. Within 5 weeks, the stem cells got integrated in to the muscles of the mice and divided to form daughter stem cells. This in turn created stem cell niche which repaired the injured muscles tissue.

Pomerantz believes that using this technique, one can successfully isolate healthy muscle stem cells from other muscles in the patient’s body and transplant them to the injured site for recovery.

This successful research renewed hope in the medical world for the treatment of muscle paralysis, aging, degenerative diseases like muscular dystrophy etc. Stem cells are used in various clinical researches to study its efficiency and applications in treating various medical conditions which are currently lacking other treatment options. In most trials, stem cells showed positive outcomes and opened doors for further medical applications.

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