Scientists at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa have discovered a new way to stimulate muscle regeneration.


Published Friday, the research — which paves the way for new treatments for debilitating conditions such as muscular dystrophy — states that a protein called Wnt7a increases the number of stem cells in muscle tissue, leading to accelerated growth and repair of skeletal muscle.


"This discovery shows us that by targeting stem cells to boost their numbers, we can improve the body's ability to repair muscle tissue," said senior author Dr. Michael Rudnicki, the scientific director of Canada's Stem Cell Network and director of OHRI's Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research.


When the Wnt7a protein was introduced into mouse muscle tissue, it significantly increased the population of stem cells and fueled the regeneration process, creating bigger and stronger muscles, increasing tissue mass by nearly 20 per cent, the report stated.