Researchers at Georgia Tech are investigating the efficacy of a stem cell infused hydrogel to facilitate the healing of muscular injuries, particularly common in elderly individuals as well as muscular dystrophy patients. The stem cells found in the hydrogel are called muscle satellite cells, and younger individuals have plentiful stores of these cells to actively and efficiently repair muscle injuries as soon as they happen. However, as individuals age, stem cells become less plentiful and less active, hence, for older individuals, recovery from muscle injuries becomes more protracted and less certain. For individuals with muscular dystrophy, muscle cells are under constant stress. The research seeks to improve on the more common approach of injecting the stem cells directly into the site of damaged muscle, by using the hydrogel to protect the stem cells and ensure that as many of them as possible reach the affected site thereby improving the efficacy of the treatment.
Stem Cells may be the key to maintaining your youth as we age. Researchers at the University of Illinois revealed that injecting mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs - the same type of stem cells found in teeth] into the leg muscles of mice facilitated the repair and strengthening of muscles following exercise. Skeletal muscle decreases in mass and function as we age. Armed with a more nuanced understanding of how muscles respond to exercise, researchers are developing novel therapies utilizing MSCs to rejuvenate aged or damaged muscles in humans.