Researchers working at the University of Manchester have found that tiny whiskers of nanoscale sizes extracted from marine life could help develop muscle tissue for humans.
According to the team, cellulose extracted from tunicates could impact the working of skeletal muscle cells in research projects.
The nanosubstances are thousands of times tinier than muscle cells and can impact muscle cell alignment. Aligned fibres in muscles and other parts of the body strengthen and harden the tissues. Cellulose, which is a polysaccharide present in plants, is basically a series of sugars fused together and prevails in paper and cotton fabrics. It is currently utilized for various applications in the medical sector, such as wound dressings.
Tunicates are found on rocks and artificial constructions in coastal areas across the globe. Cellulose derived from tunicates is ideal for producing muscle tissue.
Dr Julie Gough and Dr Stephen Eichhorn, professors at the university, collaborated with postdoctoral student James Dugan, to chemically derive the cellulose in the form of nanowhiskers. One nanometer measures one billionth of a meter and these whiskers are 10s of nanometers broad. They are placed in alignment to each other to help join muscle cells. This development will allow physicians to develop aligned design of tissues in skeletal muscles, helping heal damaged tissue or grow new ones.
James Dugan has won the American Chemical Society's Cellulose and Renewable Material Division award for his work on nanowhiskers.