Can you grow muscles and get stronger without lifting a weight? Impossible, right? Building stronger muscles means improving your diet and adding exercise in your routine. But researchers from the University of Southern California have found a short cut. Instead of sweating it out in the gym, lifting heavy weights, and doing all sorts of strength exercises, USC assistant professor of biomedical engineering Megan L. McCain and colleagues have devised a way to develop bigger and stronger muscle fibers using gelatin. Yes, gelatin!
According to the Science Daily post, which reposted the news from the materials provided by University of California – Health Sciences, researchers fabricated a gel scaffold or a tiny “chip” from gelatin (which itself is derivative of naturally occurring protein) and successfully made mouse myotubes to adhere on the gelatin chips.
In past experiments, mouse my tubes, a skeletal muscle fiber with centrally located nucleus, detached or delaminated from protein-coated plastic scaffold after a week and failed to grow. In the latest experiment, the mouse myotubes were found to be adhering well to the gelatin chips and appeared to be longer, wider and more developed.
The USC researchers anticipate that human myotubes would thrive equally well on the gelatin chips as those of the mouse myotubes. And if successful, this new discovery could be used to study the development of human muscles and muscle-related diseases. It could also provide a testing ground for a new drug.
“Disease and disorders involving skeletal muscle – ranging from severe muscular dystrophies to the gradual decrease in muscle mass with aging – dramatically reduce the quality of life for millions of people,” said McCain. “By creating an inexpensive and accessible platform for studying skeletal muscle in the laboratory, we hope to enable research that will usher in new treatments for these patients.”
McCain and her two collaborators won the Eli and Edythe Broad Innovation Awards in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at USC for their research. They are looking forward to conduct further research using the gelatin chips for studying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis which damages the neuromuscular junctions.