Old muscles can be turned into newer ones, which will not only fight degeneration but also help repair damaged tissue, says a new study.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley showed that the mature muscle tissue could be coaxed back to an earlier stem cell stage to form new muscle.
Study principal investigator Irina Conboy, UC Berkeley assistant professor of bioengineering, said that this study "opens the door to the development of new treatments to combat the degeneration of muscle associated with muscular dystrophy or aging".
"Muscle formation has been seen as a one-way trip, going from stem cells to myoblasts to muscle fibre, but we were able to get a multi-nucleated muscle fibre to reverse course and separate into individual myoblasts," said Conboy.
"For many years now, people have wanted to do this, and we accomplished that by exposing the tissue to small molecule inhibitor chemicals rather than altering the cell's genome," he added.
The experiment was successfully carried out on mice and the bioengineers claimed that their next step would be to test the process on human muscle tissue soon.
The study was published in the journal Chemistry and Biology.