Engineer builds tiny scaffolds to heal skeletal muscle

Strategies from engineering could help the body heal itself when injury, disease, or surgery causes large-scale damage to skeletal muscle.

Miqin Zhang, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Washington, and her team are taking a synthetic approach to muscle regeneration. Their goal is to create a synthetic, porous, biologically compatible “scaffold” that mimics the normal extracellular environment of skeletal muscle—onto which human cells could migrate and grow new replacement fibers.

chitosan scaffolds
A microscopic view of porous chitosan scaffolds, visualized using a scanning electron microscope. From left to right, each scaffold was constructed with an increasing density of chitosan. (Credit: Miqin Zhang)

As she recently showed in a review article in Advanced Materials, this endeavor builds on decades of work into the growth, repair, and behavior of normal skeletal muscle, but also relies on knowledge of engineering and materials science. Here, Zhang explains the project’s goals and progress to date.

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Source: Futurity