Engineering Muscle Implants
Laboratory-engineered skeletal muscle is a potential therapy for replacing diseased or damaged muscle tissue. We have developed a computer-controlled system to build properly organized muscle implants in the lab.
To do this, muscle cells are attached to strands of collagen, or connective tissue. They are then subjected to cyclic stretching ("exercise") in a bioreactor, which is a system designed to simulate the conditions of the human body. The pre-conditioning allows the cells to align in one direction, fuse to form muscle bundles. Once implanted, the implants have been shown to promote the repair of muscle damage and to build new muscle tissue.
In this video, the process is exaggerated for demonstration purposes. The process is actually much slower and involves less intense stretching.