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Gelatin Hydrogel Could Develop Stronger Muscles, Might Be Used For ALS Cure

First Posted: Jul 06, 2016 06:37 AM EDT
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A study reveals that skeletal myotubes have grown on the gelatin hydrogel after three weeks. Steven Depolo / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Researchers from USC discovered a way to build bigger and stronger muscle fibers through a type of water-logged gel made from gelatin.

The study was printed in Scientific Reports. It was authored by Megan L. McCain, Archana Bettadapur and Gio C. Suh from the University of Southern California- Health Sciences, according to Science Daily.

In the study involving a mouse model, the researchers produced a gel scaffold from gelatin, which is a derivative of the naturally occurring muscle protein collagen. After three weeks of examination, several of the mouse myotubes, which are the skeletal muscle fibers formed by the fusion of myoblasts during a developmental stage, were still holding to these gelatin chips. They were more developed, longer and wider.

The researchers foresee that human myotubes would grow well on gelatin chips. The study implies that the new and improved "muscles-on-a-chip" could be used to examine human muscle development and disease. This could also provide a relevant testing ground for novel potential drugs.

McCain, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the USC Vitebri School of Engineering and stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, explained that disease and disorders involving skeletal muscle--ranging from severe muscular dystrophies to the gradual decrease in muscle mass with aging---dramatically lessen the quality of life for millions of people. She further explained that by creating an inexpensive and accessible platform for studying skeletal muscle in the laboratory, they hope to enable research that will usher in new treatments for these patients.

The team of researchers received a funding of $120,000 from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, to use the chip they fabricated to study a neurodegenerative disease or also known as ALS or the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to Muscular Dystrophy News Today. ALS is the condition that affects the neuromuscular junctions where the nerve cells meet the muscle cells, controlling their contraction. There is also deterioration in the muscle mass.

 

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