New Wearable Microscope Tracks Motor Unit Activity in Live Humans

A new wearable microscope enables in vivo monitoring of individual muscle fiber contractions in live humans, a feat that has not been possible despite our longstanding physiological understanding of how muscles contract. According to the report in the December 16 Neuron online, researchers led by senior authors Scott Delp and Mark Schnitzer at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, have developed a microscope by connecting an infrared light source to a fine needle containing miniaturized optics that is inserted into the muscle. The device can distinguish fast and slow twitch muscles, stimulate muscle contractions, and track changes in properties of the individual contractile units of skeletal muscles, or sarcomeres, that occur due to injury or disease. This compact, portable device could fit on a bedside pushcart, and the researchers hope to ultimately develop it into a clinically useful device for diagnosing neuromuscular diseases and monitoring their progression in human patients.

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Sanchez G, Sinha S, Liske H, Chen X, Nguyen V, Delp SL, Schnitzer MJ. In Vivo Imaging of Human Sarcomere Twitch Dynamics in Individual Motor Units. Neuron. 2015 Dec 16. 88(6):p1109–1120.[Link]

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