We can grow lots out of labs these days. When you can grown full brains and anal sphincters in petri dishes, muscle must seem like cake. Except that it doesn't hold up the way muscle should. The solution? Velcro.
Oh, Velcro. I never meant to take you for granted. As it turns out, researchers at Eindhoven University found that strapping down the growing muscle onto pads of velcro helps give it the necessary structure and alignment to exert force. Otherwise the cells wind up growing up into a wad of disorganised tissue.
The muscles even grow their own network of blood vessels. All these factors combine to make this a big step toward developing treatments for patients who've lost muscle in accidents or surgery. Researchers hope to see new therapies developed in 10 years time. In the meantime, I'm gonna find my old LA Lights sneakers and think about the meaning of progress. [Eindhoven University via PopSci]
Image: Bart van Overbeeke