Stem cell research grows and grows in Europe! For the first time ever, researchers succeded to effectively grow a large number of muscle cells derived from pluripotent stem cells!
Researchers from six European countries are participating in the PluriMes project to give a cutting edge to the European stem cell research. Launched in February 2014, the €6M program aims at finding an effective and accurate way to grow bone, muscle and cartilage cells from pluripotent stem cells. The latter holds a great promise to enable the replacement of lost or damaged tissue. As published in Nature Biotechnology, the PluriMes project reported a major breakthrough: Millimeter-long muscle fibers were created from the pluripotent stem cells and were able to contract and divide en masse!
The production of muscle tissue in the lab can be a valuable tool. With this tissue, diseases could be studied and new treatments tested. A future goal is to make the manufactured muscle fibers accessible to treat degenerative diseases like muscular dystrophy. The disorder causes a progressive reduction of muscle mass and function. The constant damage overtaxes the stem cells, which normally multiply into muscle fibers. When they cannot cope with the injury anymore, the patient can eventually lose crucial skills like the ability to walk.
The project is one of many in stem cell research for which the European Commission’s Health programme has totally invested €42M. It will end in January 2018, hopefully completed with muscle, bone and cartilage cells that are tested in vivo, in vitro and in pre-clinical disease models. By now, the PluriMes project expands our knowledge on producing large quantities of differentiated stem cells, which will contribute to the potential of stem cell therapies in future medicine.