Researchers Isolate Human Muscle Stem Cells
UCSF News reports on the work of a research team, led by UCSF plastic and reconstructive surgeon Jason Pomerantz, MD, in which human muscle stem cells were successfully isolated with the potential to replicate and repair damaged muscles when grafted onto an injured site.
UC San Francisco researchers have successfully isolated human muscle stem cells and shown that the cells could robustly replicate and repair damaged muscles when grafted onto an injured site. The laboratory finding paves the way for potential treatments for patients with severe muscle injury, paralysis or genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophy.
“We’ve shown definitively that these are bona-fide stem cells that can self-renew, proliferate and respond to injury,” said Jason Pomerantz, MD, (pictured 1st) an assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at UCSF.
The findings appeared Sept. 8 in the open access Cell Press journal, Stem Cell Reports.
When muscles are badly damaged, they can lose the native populations of stem cells that are needed to heal. This has posed a major roadblock for treating patients crippled by muscle injury and paralysis, particularly in the critical small muscles of the face, hand and eye, Pomerantz said.
Surgeons have shown remarkable success at restoring nerves in damaged muscles, but if the process takes too long the stem cell pool and capacity for regeneration is lost, these injured muscles fail to connect to the nerve tissue, causing their power to wither away.
“This is partly why we haven’t had major progress in treating these patients in 30 years,” Pomerantz said. “We know we can get the axons there, but we need the stem cells for there to be recovery.” ....
Pomerantz’s interest in regenerative medicine is inspired by animals like salamanders and zebrafish, which can grow whole new body parts following injury. In addition to his translational work he studies zebrafish regeneration in hopes of using insights from such creatures to improve the self-healing capacity of humans.
Additional authors on the study include Xiaoti Xu** (pictured 2nd), MD; Karlijn J. Wilschut, PhD; Gayle Kouklis, BA; Hua Tian, PhD; Robert Hesse, PhD; Catharine Garland, MD**; Hani Sbitany, MD*; Scott Hansen*, MD; Rahul Seth, MD; P. Daniel Knott, MD; and William Y. Hoffman, MD*, all from UCSF.
* Faculty in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
** Former Research Resident, Plastic Surgery Residency Program