In what’s being described as a medical first, researchers at Duke University announced this week that they had bioengineered human skeletal muscle tissue that is capable of contracting like the real thing. The Huffington Post has more:
The scientists said the lab-grown tissue could become a powerful new tool for studying diseases like muscular dystrophy. In addition, it could facilitate the development of specialized drugs to treat these diseases–and eliminate the need to test the drugs on humans, which can be risky.
“One of our goals is to use this method to provide personalized medicine to patients,” Dr. Nenad Bursac, a professor of biomedical engineering at the university and one of the researchers, said in a written statement. “We can take a biopsy from each patient,grow many new muscles to use as test samples and experiment to see which drugs would work best for each person.”
Other scientists praised the research.
“This breakthrough allows one to rapidly screen a large number of drugs on normal and diseased human muscle cells, facilitating development of therapies for neuromuscular diseases,” Dr. Grace Pavlath, senior vice-president and scientific program director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, told The Huffington Post in an email.