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Engineering muscles and organs in space

Muscle fibers

Muscle wasting diseases progress on Earth very slowly, which has hindered the ability to identify potential drugs to treat these diseases in clinical trials. The unique features of microgravity may accelerate the process of muscle wasting and allow researchers to identify potential drugs faster and more effectively.

The image depicts the formation of skeletal muscle myofibers (known as myotubes) on scaffolds that coax them to align in parallel. Muscle fibers grown on scaffolds outside the body could help researchers identify and test potential future medical treatments for muscle wasting diseases or other ailments.

Shown in red is immunofluorescence staining of protein found in myofibers known as myosin heavy chain, which stains for the myofibers. The green color shows cells that were genetically modified to express green fluorescence protein. Blue stains all of the cell nuclei.

Credit: Ngan F. Huang, Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research and Stanford University

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