Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Muscle Meadows

Growing muscle cells on scaffolds of grass

02 August 2021

Muscle Meadows

Tissue engineers are scientists who build muscles, connective tissues, or other parts of organs in the hopes of repairing and replacing those damaged by disease or injury. They generally grow their cells on some sort of scaffold to recreate the 3D forms and contours of the organ or tissue they’re trying to mimic. Scaffolds must be compatible with cell adherence, organisation, and growth – in the case of muscle, for example, they must allow cells to grow in long parallel fibres – and it’s a bonus if the material is cheap enough to scale-up tissue production. That’s why the muscle cells in this photo (nuclei stained blue) are growing on grass. Yes, you read that correctly. Decellularised grass, it turns out, has natural microscopic grooves ideal for growing and fusing muscle cells into naturalistic fibres. What’s more, grass is readily available, incredibly inexpensive, and perhaps best of all it’s green.

Written by Ruth Williams

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