Stem cells bulk up muscle, halt ageing

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LONDON - Researchers have discovered that transplanting specially treated repair stem cells into damaged muscle makes them twice as big and strong, and also stops them from ageing.

The results have stunned scientists who still have no real clue as to why the muscles are so miraculously transformed.

But they hope that discovering the mechanism could provide a treatment for muscle wasting in the elderly, according to the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“This was a very exciting and unexpected result,” said Bradley Olwin who led the study at the University of Colorado, US, reports the Telegraph.

“Muscle stem cells are found between muscle fibres and surrounding connective tissue and are responsible for the repair and maintenance,” said Olwin.

The researchers transplanted between 10 and 50 stem cells from a donor mice into the host mice.

“We found that the transplanted stem cells were permanently altered and reduced the ageing of the transplanted muscle, maintaining strength and mass,” Olwin said.

“With further research, we may one day be able to greatly resist the loss of muscle mass, size and strength in humans that accompanies ageing, as well as chronic degenerative diseases like muscular dystrophy,” Olwin added.

In the experiments, stem cells and muscle fibres were removed from three-month-old mice, briefly cultured and then transplanted into another three-month-old mouse that had temporarily induced leg muscle injuries produced by barium chloride injections

The transplanted material seemed to kick the stem cells to a high gear for self-renewal, essentially taking over the production of muscle cells.

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