Recently, researchers from Duke University have made a breakthrough in creating lab-grown, artificial muscle that responds to electrical stimuli. In the future, medical professionals will be able to study the effects of drugs on artificial muscle without putting human subjects at risk. The implications of this are vast given that in the past researchers could only test the effects of drugs on muscle tissue in a living body. Studying living bodies pose serious limitations since researchers can only take so much muscle from a single person in order to find a suitable treatment.
Although scientists have been experimenting with lab-grown muscle for years, this marks the first time that lab-grown artificial muscle is strong enough to contract in response to electrical stimuli. Most importantly, the researchers from Duke were able to prove they could use this new muscle to replicate the results of tests often performed on the muscle of living patients, validating the success of their artificial creation.
Check out the announcement of human-engineered muscle from Duke University:
What can we do with artificial muscle?
Dr. Nenad Bursac, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University, is excited about the implications of the breakthrough. One of the reasons that artificial muscle is so important revolves around the ease of expediting research during future studies.
This will also allow scientists to eventually create treatments tailor-made for individuals by studying the effects of drugs on muscle tissue extracted from the patient in question. In time, Doctors will only have to biopsy the needed tissue, then grow it in the lab. This gives researchers the option of easily and safely performing a greater number of experiments than are possible when using a single patient as a test subject.
Bursac hopes researchers from other institutions will use his research to expand the scope of muscle disease therapies. Although a lot of research is being done in recreating tissue from other organs such as the heart, lungs and liver, there has been little progress in the field of muscle.
It seems we’re getting closer and closer to truly personalized medicine. And really, who wouldn’t want a better chance to survive a dangerous disease? What do you think of Bursac’s artificial muscle?