Regenerating muscles by means of stem cells

Italy is in the front line of the experiment that has led for the first time to generate and transplant with success muscle tissue obtained by adult stem cells, achieving an important goal in the regenerative medicine field. This study is the result of an international project with the participation of scientists of the Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology (IBCN) CNR, Rome, the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the University of Pavia and the Multimedica Institute, Milan, and in collaboration with English and Israeli researchers. The produced artificial tissue, implanted on mouse, after few weeks perfectly integrated into the paw. For the first time, a large portion of skeletal muscle has been generated, integrating and partly substituting the existing tissue: the artificial tissue has proved to develop and mature as the natural one. In particular our role has been to validate the functional performances of mouse transplanted with adult stem cells supported by a PEG‐fibrinogen matrix (hydrogel) developed in collaboration with the scientists of the Israeli Technology Institute Technion. The muscle functions resulted completed recovered. Muscle was cultured in laboratory starting from a particular type of adult stem cells, the mesoangioblasts, whose DNA had been previously modified in order to produce a growth factor after the implantation able to stimulate nerves and blood vessels. The experiment, published in Embo Molecular Medicine, has arisen immediate enthusiasm, however researchers keep prudent as the mouse muscle is very small and further studies are necessary to extend the process. At present our research is oriented towards the recreation of small portions of human muscle. Moreover we are developing a reference network for the muscle regenerative medicine, making relevant international studies and technologies available. Actually the development of this research field largely depends on the capability to integrate the most recent stem cells-based technologies with innovative bio-materials and massive genetic screening platforms.

Contact: Roberto Rizzi, IBCN CNR –

Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology – IBCN