Novel device aids in muscle recovery

23 January 2019 | Research - Impact

MRegen can be used to reduce muscle degeneration and maintain healthy muscle metabolism in post-surgical patients, the elderly and professional athletes, among others

A team of NUS researchers has developed a novel medical device capable of harnessing a magnetic field to make muscle rehabilitation quicker and more comfortable.

MRegen is a non-invasive painless device that makes use of magnetic stimulation to produce energy which “tricks” muscle cells into thinking that they are exercising, amplifying the biological effect to promote muscle regeneration. 

“The device provides a uniform electromagnetic field to a muscle area at a magnitude and pulse duration that reproduces the same regenerative, energetic and metabolic responses as physical activity. The duration of use for the device has been optimised to provide the largest therapeutic effect in terms of muscle equality, function and metabolic stability,” explained Associate Professor Alfredo Franco-Obregón from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) and the Biomedical Institute for Global Health Research and Technology (BIGHEART) at NUS who led the study.

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Assoc Prof Franco-Obregón (right) demonstrating the device 

MRegen has shown promising results in two human trials conducted between 2015 and 2017. In the first trial, healthy individuals who received 10 minutes of magnetic stimulation in either their right or left leg once a week for five consecutive weeks showed an average of 30 to 40 per cent improvement in muscle strength in both legs. 

The second trial targeted patients who had undergone anterior cruciate ligament knee surgery. In this trial, patients who were treated with MRegen on top of normal rehabilitation therapy experienced a recovery in muscle size and strength in their operated leg four weeks earlier than those who had only received normal rehabilitation therapy. Moreover, Magnetic Resonance Imaging measurements showed that muscle metabolism, one of the strongest indicators of muscle health and regenerative capacity, improved by up to 50 percent in patients who had undergone MRegen’s magnetic field treatment. 

In both trials, field treatment in one leg also consistently appeared to have positively influenced the health of the other leg, demonstrating what is known as a contralateral effect.

Muscle makes up 40 per cent of an average person’s body mass and plays a major role in regulating one’s body, health and longevity. If we can harness the ability to regulate muscle development, we may gain greater control of the overall human health.

The technology holds great promise for slowing muscle loss and maintaining healthy muscle metabolism in the frail and elderly, professional athletes during detraining, as well as those with other health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. The researchers have filed a patent for the technology and plan to commercialise it through a spin-off company QuantumTX. 

“Muscle makes up 40 per cent of an average person’s body mass and plays a major role in regulating one’s body, health and longevity. If we can harness the ability to regulate muscle development, we may gain greater control of the overall human health,” said Assoc Prof Franco-Obregón.

See press release.