Grants awarded

A frog model for muscular ageing: novel in vitro-virtual reality approaches to study age-related musculoskeletal degeneration

Grantholder:

Dr Christopher Richards

Royal Veterinary College

United Kingdom

Reaching for a glass or playing the piano involves an exquisite orchestration of multiple nerves and muscles. This ability degrades with age which makes people overreach, lose balance and fall. Although we know that older muscles are stiff, we do not understand how stiffening affects coordination because experiments are typically done in vitro. To determine the effect on the whole body, we must close the gap between in vitro techniques and in vivo effects. 

I will connect in vitro tissue to a computer simulation of the body as if the muscle is immersed in virtual reality. By altering software parameters, we will make healthy muscle ‘feel’ stiffer to discover how stiffening impairs coordination. 

My approach could be crucial for testing treatments for age and disease-related impairments. It could also evaluate and improve accuracy of numerical models that can be used instead of animal testing.