Neuromuscular nodes have been made from stem cells for the first time in the United States
Scientists in the United States have for the first time used stem cells to grow neuromuscular junctions between muscle cells and spinal cord cells in a laboratory, paving the way for a "human chip" system. In the future, scientists will be able to speed up medical research and medicine testing with these "human chip" systems, making medical breakthroughs faster than years of testing drugs on animals and people using traditional methods.
The "body chip" system is a set of models that reproduce how organs, or sets of organs, work in the body. These neuromuscular nodes must be developed in order to have a human chip system that can reproduce all the functions of the human body. The brain uses these nodes to "communicate" with the muscles in the body and to control the muscles in the body.
In the new study, Dr. Herman vandenberg of brown university in the United States first collected muscle stem cells from adult volunteers through vivisection. Nadine guo of the university of central Florida created these neuromuscular junctions by conducting a series of experiments that used different concentrations of cells, different time intervals and other parameters to create the most suitable environment for the "happy" bonding of muscle and spinal cord cells.
The study, funded by the national institute of neurological disorders at the national institutes of health, will be published in December in the journal biomaterials. James hickman, a bioengineer at the university of central Florida who led the study, said he was optimistic about the future of the research because traditional animal testing methods are slow, expensive and often fail, hampering the development and delivery of new medicine.
The national institutes of health, the defense advanced research projects agency and the food and medicine administration are all accelerating the development of "human chip" models, and at least $140 million is now being spent in the field. The goal of these teams is to create systems that contain a variety of small, interconnected organs that mimic human function in a practical way. Scientists will be able to use these systems to test drugs on human cells before they can be safely and ethically tested in humans. The technology promises to be more efficient than tests on mice and other animals.
In addition to being used to develop microchip models of the human body, neuromuscular nodes themselves are also important research tools, playing important roles in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord damage and other degenerative diseases. Scientists say the newest technology could be used to test new drugs or other treatments for these diseases before a broader chip-based model is developed.
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