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A new mechanically active adhesive fights muscle atrophy

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A mechanically active Gel-Elastomer-Nitinol Tissue Adhesive (MAGENTA) device prototype is made of Nitinol springs and elastomeric insulation and is coined on a penny. [Photo courtesy of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University]

Harvard bioengineers have developed a mechanically active adhesive that can prevent muscle wasting and support atrophy recovery.

They call it MAGENTA. This is an acronym for mechanically active gel-elastomer-nitinol tissue adhesive. Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biotechnology and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science tested MAGENTA in animal models and their research Natural materials.

“Using MAGENTA, we have developed a novel integrated multicomponent system for mechanical stimulation of muscle that can be placed directly into muscle tissue to trigger key molecular pathways for growth.” news release“While research initially provides [the] With our proof-of-concept that externally provided stretch and contraction movements can prevent atrophy in animal models, we believe the core design of the device is broadly adaptable to a variety of disease settings where atrophy is a major problem. . “

Nitinol does it again

The MAGENTA system Nitinol, a nickel-titanium alloy used in medical devices for its shape memory ability. When heated, the nitinol springs are rapidly actuated and the frequency and duration of the expansion and contraction cycles are controlled by a programmed microprocessor unit.

An elastomeric material insulates the nitinol springs of the MAGENTA device and is attached to the muscle tissue with a “strong glue”. The device transmits mechanical force deep into the muscle when aligned with the muscle’s natural axis of motion.

A diagram for explaining the concept of magenta. From devices implanted in future patients, zooming into the muscles they attach to and where they perform the task of stretching and contracting muscles along their length, to the composition and interface of multifunctional materials. in muscle tissue.

[Illustration courtesy of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University]

The researchers implanted the device in the mouse’s major calf muscle and showed no serious signs of tissue damage or inflammation. The device produced a mechanical strain of about 15%, consistent with deformation due to natural motion, the researchers said.

The researchers then attached the device to the mouse’s leg and kept it in a cast for up to two weeks.

Sungmin Nam, lead author and Wyss Technology Development Fellow, said in a news release: “Our approach promotes the recovery of already lost muscle mass over a 3-week immobilization period, promoting the release of key biochemical mechanotransduction pathways known to induce protein synthesis and muscle growth.” It can also induce activation.”

A MAGENTA device with a tough hydrogel adhesive surface (left) was implanted into the calf muscle of mice and fixed for an extended period of time in an atrophy model to induce muscle wasting. When the electricity is turned on and the device is actuated, the device contracts, causing mechanical stimulation to the underlying muscles, whereas when the electricity is turned off, the device and muscles relax (top right). line). The lower right panel shows where muscle tissue migrated as a result of MAGENTA contraction and relaxation, with color changes from blue to red indicating the migrated areas of muscle tissue.

These images show the MAGENTA device, what it looks like when implanted in the calf muscle of a mouse, and how much displacement the device causes. [Image courtesy of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University]

What’s next for MAGENTA devices?

The researchers also experimented with using light to actuate the device, replacing wires connecting Nitinol springs to microprocessors. Laser light emitted through the skin was able to activate the device, but failed to achieve the same frequency as the fatty tissue seemed to absorb some of the light.

The researchers say they believe they can improve the device’s performance and sensitivity to light.

“MAGENTA’s general features and the fact that its assembly can be easily scaled from millimeters to centimeters make it an excellent candidate for future mechanotherapy, not only for treating atrophy, but perhaps for accelerating regeneration of skin, heart, etc. It could be interesting as a central part of a place that could benefit from this form of mechanotransduction,” Nam said.

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