Scientists gave injured mice stem cells to boost their recovery. The treatment worked unbelievably well - in days, the rodents' muscles grew back twice as big as before, and they remained super-strong for the rest of their lives.
Researchers at the University of Boulder injected stem cells into young mice with leg injuries. The stem cells were themselves taken from healthy young mice about the same age as the recipients. The stem cells didn't just heal the injuries - they caused the mice's muscles to increase an incredible 170 percent in size. Even more amazingly, the changes weren't temporary. The mice kept their bulked up legs for the rest of their lives, about two years.
Lead researcher Bradley Olwin explains the result:
"This was a very exciting and unexpected result. We found that the transplanted stem cells are permanently altered and reduce the aging of the transplanted muscle, maintaining strength and mass. When the muscles were examined two years later, we found the procedure permanently changed the transplanted cells, making them resistant to the aging process in the muscle. The environment that the stem cells are injected into is very important, because when it tells the cells there is an injury, they respond in a unique way."
Obviously, it's hard to look past our newfound ability to create super-strong mice whenever we want - personally, I'm thinking we start up a production line of mouse Captain Americas with this rodent super serum. But the findings could also help humans in a more conventional way. If humans can experience similar regenerative effects from stem cell injections, it could help treat diseases like muscular dystrophy. Or, if it works exactly like it did with the mice, we can start producing a bunch of human Captain Americas, which does sort of seem more useful than their mouse equivalent.