Duke Researchers Create Artificial Human Muscles

As a representative of M.U.S.C.L.E., I find artificial muscles a bit unseemly. However, researchers at Duke University have been able to grow their own twitching tissue, a first that could allow researchers to test drugs on working muscle without damaging a live host.

From the release:

 In a laboratory first, Duke researchers have grown human skeletal muscle that contracts and responds just like native tissue to external stimuli such as electrical pulses, biochemical signals and pharmaceuticals.”The beauty of this work is that it can serve as a test bed for clinical trials in a dish,” said Bursac. “We are working to test drugs’ efficacy and safety without jeopardizing a patient’s health and also to reproduce the functional and biochemical signals of diseases — especially rare ones and those that make taking muscle biopsies difficult.”

Interestingly there is no mention here of using these tiny bits of working muscle – muscle that twitches in response to electricity and responds to drugs just like regular human muscle – as replacements for lost musculature, which suggests the samples are still too small to be useful. However, this is the first time human-equivalent muscle has been grown in the lab and it looks like it will be a real boon for researchers trying to figure out the effects of various diseases and drugs on the body. That said, I fully intend to eventually embed huge chunks of artificial muscle into my body and walk around looking like the Hulk.