Aging comes with a host of problems that involves a general weakening of the entire body. These weaknesses even affect muscles, which grow less strong with age. What if we could repair those muscles and make them as strong as they were when we were younger? That’s exactly what scientists at the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology has achieved, at least in aging mice: they have successfully used stem cells to repair muscles in older mice, making them stronger.
We are just learning about the use of stem cells in medicine, but recent results are impressive. From restoring sight to a blind man to treating genetic diseases to creating new beating heart muscles, the use of stem cells in medical research is coming into its own. Not only are stem cells effective at repairing damage and creating new tissue, but as the cells generally come from the same patient, there’s no worry about the body rejecting them.
Generally speaking, when we get older, the stem cells in our muscles change: signals within them tell proteins to stop growing new cells. This can especially be a problem when injuries arise (for example, a broken hip, which is common in the elderly) and make healing a long and incomplete process. To battle this, the researchers extracted these specific stem cells from old mice. They administered a drug combined with a hydrogel on the cells, which ordered the cells to grow and make copies, which they did. The team inserted these cells back into the old mice, where they stimulated existing muscle cells and brought them back to a state resembling those of young and healthy mice.
This research obviously doesn’t solve the entire problem of aging, but it can make it more comfortable, and improve quality of life for the elderly. It could also have an impact on sports medicine, as muscle injuries are common in athletics.
Via Singularity Hub