Health & Nutrition
New Approaches to Model Skeletal Muscle Regeneration
Our research group investigates methods to remedy skeletal muscle degeneration and disease states using direct reprogramming and stem cell-based therapies.
Skeletal muscle is a soft tissue that comprises 30-40% of normal human body mass. This tissue is composed of multinucleated myofibers that contract to generate locomotion and mononucleated resident cells, most notably stem cells known as satellite cells that can regenerate the tissue upon injury or disease state. The propensity of satellite cells to efficiently regenerate muscle is compromised during old age and derailed in muscular dystrophies and cachexia, affecting millions of patients worldwide. Currently, the underlining determinants of this regenerative failure remain only partially understood and effective curative treatments are lacking.
The primary long-term goal of our laboratory is directed towards developing stem cell-based therapeutic approaches to treat degenerative loss of muscle mass. To this end, we utilize direct lineage reprogramming approaches to convert somatic cells into regenerative-competent myogenic stem and progenitor cells suitable for potential therapies. These myogenic stem cells can be cultured long-term in vitro and engrafted back into mouse muscles resulting in regeneration and remedy of disease condition.
Given our expertise in mouse muscle cell line cultivation, our research group further explores means to reduce costs of cultivated meat production via generation of unique muscle stem cell lines, from large animals and sea creatures, that can be used as a future source for sustainable proteins. This endeavor is a mutual collaboration with various labs across the world in addition to “The Good Food Institute”, a US based non-profit foundation.
Ori Bar-Nur received his PhD degree with distinction in 2012 from the Hebrew University and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard University, both in Stem Cell Biology. Since 2018 he serves as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich. Dr. Bar-Nur’s work has been published in prestigious journals including Nature Biotechnology, Nature Methods and Cell Stem Cell. During 2019 he was a recipient of the Eccellenza Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.