You have stem cells alongside your muscles that provide a ready pool of new muscle cells.

In special “niches” alongside muscle cells, muscle progenitor stem cells are at the ready.  When called upon, they can differentiate into new muscle cells.  This is the finding of a German team announcing it in a press release from the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine.

A signaling pathway called Notch ensures that the progenitor cells occupy their niche.  How, though, do they stay stem cells?  Notch has a second function: suppressing their differentiation until the called upon.  Consequently, as the headline implies, Notch ensures these stem cells are “at the right place at the right time.”

Update  9/27/2012:  Accompanied by a photo of a strong bicep, Science Daily reported that there may be a way to make old muscles feel young again – by replenishing the pool of muscle precursor stem cells to their original state.

In other stem cell news:

  • Medical researchers are finding ways to use carbon nanotubes to coax adult stem cells into repairing damaged hearts. (PhysOrg)
  • Scientists at UC San Francisco are figuring out how chromatin modifications during development transform an embryo’s stem cells into heart tissue (Science Daily).
  • Programming of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) is becoming more efficient. (PhysOrg)
  • Scientists are probing the epigenetic signatures of iPSCs to see if they retain signatures of their progenitors (PNAS).  This will undoubtedly become an active area of research in light of the ENCODE project findings….

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