NIBIB Shares New Method for 3D Modeling Human Neuromuscular Junction
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has recently shared findings from its research on the neuromuscular junction, which is where nerves and muscle fibers meet. Previous studies of neuromuscular junctions were done on small animal models, but NIBIB researchers recognized that human systems can be quite different.
David Rampulla, Ph.D., Director of the division of Discovery Science & Technology at NIBIB, states that “the study authors have developed a method to evaluate the neuromuscular junction using human 3D tissue models, which enables a more accurate representation of human disease.” Lou Gehrig’s disease is an example of a neuromuscular disease that this new model could be used to study.
NIBIB recently published an article explaining how the researchers were able to generate a 3D model of the human neuromuscular junction by using donor cells. Researchers generate two sets of cells (skeletal muscle cells and motor neurons) that together model the human system.
According to NIBIB, “in their study, the researchers exposed their models to serum taken from patients with myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the neuromuscular junction and causes muscle weakness. The researchers found that exposure to this serum drastically impaired the function of their human models, demonstrating that their system can be used to model human disease.”
ASME’s Position Paper on “Investing in Bioengineering: Securing America’s Leadership Role in a 21st Century Global Economy” discusses the importance of bioengineering in the U.S. research and development portfolio. NIBIB’s unique position to focus on the development, application, and acceleration of technologies to improve outcomes for a broad range of biomedical applications and health care challenges is particularly important to ASME. ASME has been supportive of the mission of the NIBIB since its inception in 2001.