Inside a Petri dish in a lab at the University of Toronto is a muscle — made from scratch using human stem cells — that has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
To study the biological properties of DMD, a degenerative muscle disorder that mainly affects males, U of T researchers obtained cell lines from people living with the condition and used them to create miniature muscles in a dish. Now, they’re helping other researchers and industry partners develop and test new treatments that may help the boys and young men who are afflicted with DMD.
The research team is led by Bryan Stewart, professor of biology at U of T Mississauga, and Penney Gilbert, associate professor in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and at U of T’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research. Stewart specializes in the physiology of neurons and muscles. Gilbert, a cell biologist, specializes in restoring skeletal muscle (the muscles attached to bone) by using stem cells. They decided to collaborate after meeting at a research leadership workshop organized by Professor Molly Shoichet (ChemE, BME) about six years ago. Read full U of T Engineering News story.