January 20, 2016

Connective tissue sheaths that bundle muscles together turn into hollow fibers when muscle injury occurs. These hollow fibers are known as ghost tissue. Research has shown that stem cells can be used to repair these muscles and build new tissue inside the hollow ghost fibers. Previously, it was known that stem cells could be used to heal muscles; researchers were just not aware how this took place until Micah Webster and a team of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Baltimore discovered that the stem cells used ghost fibers to complete this healing process.

Webster and his team used a microscopy technique to observe how stem cells rebuild damaged tissue in mice. The damage was caused by the venom of snakes. The undamaged stem cells used the hollow ghost muscle fiber to travel back and forth, spacing themselves out evenly and then replicating themselves to fill in the hollow fiber and create new muscle fibers. The stem cells did not move from one hollow fiber to another, but filled in hollow fibers that were connected to fibers that were intact.

Researchers often use mice models to investigate how stem cells repair and heal the body before the same tests are conducted in humans. This positive interaction shows that stem cells could possibly use ghost fibers to restore damaged tissue in humans. Scientists could utilize this in humans by creating artificial ghost fibers to heal injuries where a person has lost entire chunks of muscles, such as soldiers who are wounded by explosives in combat.

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