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Regina Bailey

Growing Muscle From Fat

By February 1, 2012

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Two fat-derived stem cells display a continuous cytoskeleton, indicating that they have fused together.
Credit: Yu Suk Choi / UC San Diego

Researchers have discovered that stem cells generated from fat do a better job of forming functional muscle cells than stem cells from other sources. Unlike muscle cells from other sources, fat-derived muscle cells fuse together and form a continuous cytoskeleton under certain conditions. In addition, the fused cells remain integrated even when transferred to a stiff surface. This is good news in that these cells have the potential to repair and replace damaged muscle tissue which tends to be stiff.

The researchers contend that these cells may be key to the development of new treatments for those suffering from muscle related diseases such as muscular dystrophy. According to researcher Adam Engler, "From the perspective of translating this into a clinically viable therapy, we want to know what components of the environment provide the most important cues for these cells." The researchers plan to test the cells in mice that have a form of muscular dystrophy to determine how effective the cells are at repairing damaged tissue in a living organism.

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