A new study by scientists from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute has discovered a revolutionary way to generate new muscles. The results of the study, published in the medical journal Nature Medicine, revealed the technique of repairing damaged muscles by promoting tissue repair. The scientists also discovered a way to create a readily replenished store of muscle stem cells, which could facilitate continuous muscle repair. The technique could help treat patients with degenerative muscle diseases, as well as those who have suffered severe muscular damage. It could also help weakening muscular conditions in the elderly and those physically debilitated by illness. The results of this study could end up revolutionizing the health care system.
Muscle repair cycle
There are two key processes behind a muscle repair. The muscle can become damaged in several ways, from physical injuries to degenerative diseases. When this occurs, the damaged cells are replaced by satellite cells, also known as muscle stem cells, that mature into skeletal muscle cells. These cells are able to join together to create a new muscle fiber. The next process involves replenishing the store of satellite cells. When a muscle is healthy and undamaged, the satellite cells lie in a quiescent state in the basement membrane of the epithelium. When a muscle becomes damaged, these cells are activated and begin dividing to form a transit amplifying pool where the differentiated stem cells are selected from. Chronic muscle damage could overly exhaust these stores and disrupt the muscle regeneration cycle. This will lead to a continuing state of muscle deterioration.
The role of the STAT3 protein
The scientists discovered that the key to creating a sustainable pool of satellite cells lies in the STAT3 protein. The STAT3 protein is a member of the signal transducer and transcription family, which mediates growth and differentiation in cells. This protein, activated by the STAT gene, mediates satellite cell differentiation. Alternating cycles of inhibition of the STAT3 protein can lead to a sustainable pool of stem cells that can be activated to repair single or multiple cases of muscle damage. The research tested STAT3 inhibition on mice and were able to successfully control satellite cell differentiation and replication. Controlling the STAT3 protein will work like a light switch, turning it on when muscle repair is required and turning it off when the muscles are in good condition.
Potential treatment for patients with muscle deterioration
The results of this study are very promising for patients with muscle disease. As of now, there is no definitive form of treatment for muscular deterioration. This new procedure presents a potential cure that could completely repair damaged muscles and restore their function. It could cure diseases like muscular dystrophy, which is one of the largest groups of degenerative diseases. With intensive physical therapy, it may also be able to treat paralysis. It could combat the debilitating effects of old age and diseases like cancer and give patients renewed physical strength. STAT3 inhibition could provide complete cures for conditions that once presented lifelong crippling symptoms.
Impact on the medical community
This procedure also has a very positive impact on the healthcare system and on medical practitioners. It opens up a new area of study into the physiological effects of protein cycles. This could lead to further similar treatments being discovered in the future. Aside from working on skeletal muscles, this process may be able to facilitate neuromuscular repair, which could in turn be able to treat illnesses like Parkinson’s disease that cause impaired motor function. Repair and restoration of all types of muscles would revolutionize the whole of medical treatment in general.