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Repairing muscle from the cell up

A stem cell transplant that fixes defective muscle in mice could someday become a treatment for muscular dystrophy

It may one day be possible to use cell transplants to treat muscular dystrophy.

A new study used skeletal muscle stem cells to rebuild brawn in mice with faulty muscle-making genes, researchers report in the July 11 Cell. The technique could provide a promising treatment for disorders like Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most common form of the muscle disease.

The results offer hope that one day skeletal muscle stem cells from healthy people could be grafted into those with muscle disorders, says Amy Wagers, coauthor of the paper and a stem cell biologist at Harvard University and the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. People with other kinds of muscle damage could benefit as well, she says. “There are a lot of situations where muscle is degenerating or damaged and you might want to boost its regenerative capacity.”

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