Man has “salamander-like” ability to grow damaged cartilage

October 11, 2019  14:31

People are not able to grow amputated limbs, like salamanders - but we do have a “salamander-like” ability to grow damaged cartilage, CNN reported.

A study published in the journal Science Advances showed that cartilage in human joints can be restored through a process similar to that used by creatures such as salamanders and zebrafish to regenerate limbs.

These results may open the door to new methods for treating joint injuries and diseases such as osteoarthritis, and possibly even lead to regeneration of the human limbs. Salamanders, axolotls, and other animals with regenerative abilities have a type of molecule called microRNA that helps regulate joint tissue repair. We also have microRNAs, but our cartilage repair mechanism is stronger in some parts of the body, the study showed. For example, miRNA molecules are more active in the ankles and less active in the knees and hips.

"We were excited to learn that the regulators of regeneration in the salamander limb appear to also be the controllers of joint tissue repair in the human limb," said Duke professor and researcher Ming-Feng Hsueh in the press release. "We call it our 'inner salamander' capacity."

The study also showed that theage of the cartilage - that is, whether protein structures have changed or amino acid changes have occurred

These factors - microRNA activity level and cartilage age - explain why ankle injuries heal faster than knee and hip injuries.

The study says microRNAs can be injected into joints or turned into drugs that prevent or eliminate arthritis. In the more distant future, he may even "create the basis for the regeneration of human limbs."

"We believe that an understanding of this 'salamander-like' regenerative capacity in humans, and the critically missing components of this regulatory circuit, could provide the foundation for new approaches to repair joint tissues and possibly whole human limbs," said Duke professor Virginia Byers Kraus, one of the lead authors in the study.

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