Velcro Helps Muscles Grow

Stretching muscle cells as they grow helps promote the expression of growth factors.

Aug 31, 2011
Edyta Zielinska

Muscle cellsWIKIMEDIA, COURTESY OF JAGIELLONIAN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL COLLEGE

Researchers have grown organized muscle tissue complete with complex structures like blood vessels in a petri dish.  Although others have grown muscle blood vessels before, the cells did not align like a stack of rods, a formation that is essential for tissue's contractile ability, according to Gizmag, an online technology magazine. The feat was accomplished by researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlandsher by stretching the growing tissue—comprised of a mixture of stem cells and blood vessel cells—between two pads of Velcro submerged in culture medium. Apparently the stretching force caused the cells to align. In addition, rather than adding growth factors to stimulate blood vessel development, the simple act of stretching the cells caused them to produce the necessary factors, which are difficult to control when added experimentally. The research brings the muscle engineering one step closer to clinical application in patients with traumatic muscle injury.