WEBINAR: The Therapeutic Promise of Apoptosis
Sartorius & Science Prize Finalist
Ritu Raman, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA | AAAS L’Oréal USA for Women in Science Postdoctoral Fellow
Disease or damage that limits the functionality of skeletal muscle severely impacts human health, mobility, and quality-of-life. There is thus a critical need to uncover the underlying structure and cell-cell communication that drives the formation, maturation, and responsive behaviors of muscle. We have developed a mesoscale in vitro skeletal muscle model that enables ready visualization of cell-cell communication and tissue-wide coordinative function. The model is composed of engineered tissue coupled to a flexible 3D printed skeleton. Contraction of the tissue deforms the skeleton, providing a straightforward visual and quantitative measure of tissue functionality. This enables testing the effect of various biochemical and mechanical stimuli and optimizing tissue viability, maturation timeline, and force production. Our model offered the first proof that light stimulation “exercise” of optogenetic muscle could enhance force production, and the first demonstration of bidirectional locomotion and rotation in an engineered skeletal muscle-powered system. It also served as a test platform to design and optimize a protocol to guide and accelerate muscle healing after induced damage. This system can be used to develop a deeper understanding of muscle development and adaptation, and we are optimistic these insights will aid efforts to replace and recover muscle loss-of-function in vivo.
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