Growing Muscles in the Lab


HOUSTON, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) – From destroyed muscles to torn up tissues, every year, 4.5 million people undergo reconstructive surgeries. Although surgeons can help repair the problem, many times, the damaged area will never get back to 100 percent. But now, researchers are working on growing muscles in the lab and give these patients new hope.

Car accidents, sports injuries, cancer, war – many times, surgeries to reconstruct new tissue helps the look, but Katie Hogan, PhD candidate and bioengineer at Rice University says it’s not very effective because they don’t recover the additional function of that muscle.

(Read Full Interview)

Now, Rice University bioengineers are creating scaffolds made from decellularized skeletal muscle.

“Our goal, here, is to not just create new tissue, but to create new functional tissue,” Hogan explains.

It’s the latest step in true tissue regeneration — using natural materials — not synthetic ones. Researchers start with muscle taken from a rabbit and break it down into proteins to create the matrix of nanofibers. Scientists can grow it as large, or as small, as needed.

Hogan further explains, “We would be able to implant this mesh directly because it already has the proteins and biochemical cues that we would find in muscle. It should, ideally, recruit cells from your body to help come in and fill that gap and to form new muscle fibers.”

In rats, it took just eight weeks for researchers to see substantial new muscle fiber formation, and once enough muscle is formed, the scaffold will degrade and be replaced by new muscle. Researchers say using natural materials is important because natural materials will help the tissue become more functional.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Editor.

To receive a free weekly e-mail on medical breakthroughs from Ivanhoe, sign up at:




REPORT:       MB #5086 

BACKGROUND: Reconstructive surgery aims to restore normal form and function of tissue after it has been compromised by infection, trauma, cancer surgery, or for congenital reasons. Reconstructive surgery can be used to help with injuries, birth defects, or disfigurement issues. Breast reconstruction or reduction, surgeries for feet and hands, wound care, Microsurgery or flap procedures, and facial surgeries are all different types of reconstructive surgeries.


DIAGNOSING: Nearly one million reconstructive surgery procedures are performed each year. Reconstructive surgery is done at a clinic, surgery center, your healthcare provider’s office or at a hospital. A doctor will evaluate each person’s unique situation on an individual basis to determine if constructive surgery is right for them. A surgeon will take a detailed medical history and evaluate a person’s case based on their desired results and medical necessity. Doctors may evaluate a potential candidate for reconstructive surgery by asking questions such as do they have a traumatic burn that affects underlying muscles and impacts their mobility, or have they had cancer and require surgery for multiple body parts? A surgeon will evaluate the severity of a person’s case and advise them on the available options.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Katie Hogan, a PhD candidate and bioengineer at Rice University and a team of other researchers are using electro spinning to help with reconstructive surgery. Hogan and other researchers put a skeletal muscle it into a conductive solvent and extrude it from a needle. The electric field between the needle and a plate draws out the material as a microfiber which is then deposited onto the plate. The material on the plate is then collected and used by different collection devices to help Hogan and her team change the orientation of the fibers that they’ve collected.                                                                                                                       (Source: Katie Hogan, PhD Candidate)


Mike Williams                                      Jeff Falk

(713) 348-6728                                   (713) 248-6775             

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Katie Hogan, PhD Candidate, Bioengineer

Read the entire Q&A