Page last updated at 09:17 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 10:17 UK

Novel material 'mimics muscles'

Muscle (SPL)
The material mimics the elastic properties of muscle

Scientists have created an artificial material that mimics the tough, stretchy properties of muscle.

The material could find a potential application as a "scaffold" to aid muscle regeneration.

Researchers engineered a polymer to reproduce the properties of titin - a protein which largely determines the elastic properties of muscle.

The work, by a US-Canadian team of researchers, is reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

"A hallmark of titin-like proteins is that they unfold under a stretching force to dissipate energy and prevent damage to tissues by over-stretching," said co-author John Gosline from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"We've been able to replicate one of the more unique characteristics exhibited by muscle tissues, but not all of them."

Scientists cross-linked the polymers to form a solid, rubber-like material.

The authors suggest that the properties of this material could even be fine-tuned to resemble specific types of muscle by adjusting the compositions of the proteins.

Initially, the discovery could assist in the healing of tissue tears, acting as a tough stretchy scaffold that allows new tissue to grow across the wound.

But scientists will have to test whether the material is compatibile with human tissue.

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