Duke University scientists have grown functional human muscle tissue in the lab. The team grew the muscle tissue from “myogenic precursors” – cells that have developed beyond stem cells but are not yet muscle cells, and then tested the tissue’s contractile and other responses.
From the Duke University press release:
To see if the muscle could be used as a proxy for medical tests, Bursac and Madden studied its response to a variety of drugs, including statins used to lower cholesterol and clenbuterol, a drug known to be used off-label as a performance enhancer for athletes.
The effects of the drugs matched those seen in human patients. The statins had a dose-dependent response, causing abnormal fat accumulation at high concentrations. Clenbuterol showed a narrow beneficial window for increased contraction. Both of these effects have been documented in humans. Clenbuterol does not harm muscle tissue in rodents at those doses, showing the lab-grown muscle was giving a truly human response.
Read more about the work and its implications for toxicity testing and disease modeling here. Watch video of the engineered muscle tissue below: