As stem cells continue their gradual transition from the lab to the clinic, a research group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has discovered a new way to make large concentrations of skeletal muscle cells and muscle progenitors from human stem cells.
The new method, described in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, could be used to generate large numbers of muscle cells and muscle progenitors directly from human pluripotent stem cells. These stem cells, such as embryonic (ES) or induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, can be made into virtually any adult cell in the body.
Adapting a method previously used to make brain cells, Masatoshi Suzuki, an assistant professor of comparative biosciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine, has directed those universal stem cells to become both adult muscle cells and muscle progenitors.
Importantly, the new technique grows the pluripotent stem cells as floating spheres in high concentrations of two growth factors, fibroblast growth factor-2 and epidermal growth factor. These growth factors “urge” the stem cells to become muscle cells.
“Researchers have been looking for an easy way to efficiently differentiate stem cells into muscle cells that would be allowable in the clinic,” says Suzuki. The novelty of this technique is that it generates a larger number of muscle stem cells without using genetic modification, which is required by existing methods for making muscle cells (…)