Stretch Your Muscles
Stretching myoblasts to encourage their growth
McGill University, Canada
Who: Nina Strasky, bachelor’s student in bioengineering
When: 2021 – 2021
Institutes: McGill University, Canada
Supervisors: Richard Leask, professor and associate chair of chemical engineering at McGill University
Nina is exploring the effects of mechanically stretching myoblasts while they grow. She hypothesizes that stretching myoblasts will cause them to secrete growth factors, which encourage their proliferation and differentiation into full muscle fibers.
In the body, muscles are constantly being stretched as they are used, and this mechanical force is important for their growth. In culture, cell growth is generally engineered by adding growth factors to the culture media – the most expensive component of cultured meat production. Providing stretch to the cells in culture may get myoblasts to produce their own growth factors – decreasing the cost of growth factors that must be added to the media!
Nina successfully design an apparatus that allowed her to stretch cells during culture. However, she has faced challenges with growing the cells on the stretcher. Future work will improve cell survival and improve the throughput of the design.