- Stem cells are unique in that they can constantly renew themselves, and form the basis of other specialized cells;
- These cells not only repaired the injury, but they caused the treated muscle to increase in size by 170 percent.
It may even help people resist the gradual erosion of muscle strength that comes with age, Bradley Olwin of the University of Colorado at Boulder and colleagues reported in the journal, Science Translational Medicine.
- This is a very exciting and unexpected result;
- Transplanted stem cells are permanently altered and reduce the aging of the transplanted muscle, maintaining strength and mass;
- Olwin’s team had thought the changes would be temporary, but they lasted through the lifetime of the mice, which was about 2 years;
- When the muscles were examined 2 years later, we found the procedure permanently changed the transplanted cells, making them resistant to the aging process in the muscle;
- Cells were injected into a healthy leg; they did not get the same effect, suggesting there is something important about injecting the cells into an injured muscle that triggers growth.
The environment that the stem cells are injected into is very important, because when it tells the cells there is an injury, they respond in a unique way.
- The findings are encouraging for human research, but cautions that putting stem cells from young mice into other young mice is not the same thing as making old muscles young again.
- The study is in mice, not people.