A new technique to image muscle fibres in living patients is described in Nature. The technology will greatly increase our understanding of how healthy muscles work and how they go wrong in diseases of motor control, such as Parkinson's disease and muscular dystrophy.
Muscle fibres are made up of repeated units, or 'sarcomeres', that act as the powerhouse behind contraction. Mark Schnitzer, Scott Delp, and colleagues have developed a laser-scanning imaging system to observe sarcomeres in living tissue directly by using a needle less than half a millimetre in diameter. The team have used the new system to make the first ever measurements of how individual sarcomeres respond to changes in body posture, in living subjects and in real time.
The uses of such technology are widespread, and potentially include guiding diagnoses of muscle diseases, improving rehabilitation strategies and even monitoring athletic performance in sport stars.
Mark Schnitzer (Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA)
Scott Delp(Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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