By injecting purified stem cells isolated from adult skeletal muscle, researchers have shown they can restore healthy muscle and improve muscle function in mice with a form of muscular dystrophy. Those muscle-building stem cells were derived from a larger pool of so-called satellite cells that normally associate with mature muscle fibres and play a role in muscle growth and repair.
In addition to their contributions to mature muscle, the injected cells also replenished the pool of regenerative cells normally found in muscle. Those stem cells allowed the treated muscle to undergo subsequent rounds of injury repair, they found.
'Our work shows proof-of-concept that purified muscle stem cells can be used in therapy,' said Amy Wagers of Harvard University, noting that in some cases the stem cells replaced more than 90 percent of the muscle fibres. Such an advance would require isolation of stem cells equivalent to those in the mouse from human muscle, something Wagers said her team is now working on.
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