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Engineered Muscle Regeneration

By Sarah Chadwell, NASM CPT


Scientists can now engineer muscle growth? Miqin Zhang, a University of Washington professor of materials science and engineering, leads a team taking a synthetic technique to muscle regeneration. The aim is to “create a synthetic, porous, biologically compatible 'scaffold' that mimics the normal extracellular environment of skeletal muscle -- onto which human cells could migrate and grow new replacement fibers.”

This research was initiated because muscles have limited abilities to regenerate and repair themselves after certain types of damage. However, this technology has seemingly farfetched implications that could become reality in the fitness industry.

Food for thought: Cosmetic surgery is wildly popular. It helps people enhance their appearance in various ways. What if bodybuilders could use this muscle-generating technology to actually grow muscle groups they have difficulty with such as their calves?

Muscle mass takes a long time to build, hence how the sport of bodybuilding got its name. It literally takes years of diligent training and proper diet to build your body. If researchers can engineer muscles to grow more quickly via an implant that actually allows your cells to grow on and replace muscle fibers, that’s a game changer. You could defy genetics, which is a leading factor in determining how quickly you build mass.

Though this research wasn't intended to help bodybuilders get massive, but rather to help those who have been severely injured, it doesn't seem likely that it'll be available to the masses – until someone sees that it could be just as profitable as cosmetic surgery.

The number of years younger your cells could appear if you engage in 40 minutes of sweat-filled workouts five days a week, according to a Brigham Young University study.

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