A study on mice directed by Alessandra Sacco of Stanford University has shown that once inserted into a diseased muscle, just one adult muscular stem cell can reproduce to form an entire ‘family’ of cells and restore lost muscular function. In a leg muscle with no muscular stem cells that has been irreversibly damaged, a single adult stem cell can take root and multiply, restoring muscular function.
The study was presented today in the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Cell Biology
(ASCB) in San Francisco. The muscular stem cells in this case are called ‘satellite cells’, which normally repair muscular tissue when it is damaged. In many degenerative muscular diseases however, this ‘natural repair’ is lacking and the muscular fibers degrade slowly. The validity of stem cell transplants into diseased muscle has been demonstrated on more than one occasion, but this is the first time that a single cell transplant has been performed.
The stem cell family born from the single cell was able to repair the muscle and restore its function, another step forward in stem cell research to cure degenerative muscular diseases.