It has been long thought that humans are unable to grow new cartilages in their joints, once the old ones are damaged. The latest study in the field shows that humans have this power once activated. Science digs further into the discovery that may end arthritis.
Salamanders are able to produce new cartilages – that protect the end of the bones from friction – and even grow new limbs if they encounter a predator. Researchers want to pull out the ‘salamander’ powers that the human body can exhibit by modifying the genes that impede this natural process.
They affirmed that a growing body of evidence ties specific molecules in the human joints with the limb regeneration in salamanders. MicroRNAs are small molecules that restore the limbs in salamanders. Will this option be available for humans in the future?
Our Inner Salamander
The novelty appeared in the journal Science Advances, where Kraus and his team of researchers outlined that the ageing process of these molecules undergoes a chemical modification. Once the chemical reaction is demystified, the entire process can be reversed.
To reach these conclusions, the researchers collected samples from 18 individuals and notice that the renewing process varies for different parts of the body. For example, joints have an enhanced ability to recover in the ankles, compared with the hips and knees. It means that the protein in the ankle remains young for a longer time. How can these inequalities be fixed?
Scientists may have found the osteoarthritis turnover, but it may be available only as a preventive measure, and it can’t repair any pre-existent damage in the joints. In previous trials, injecting microRNAs delayed the onset of osteoporosis significantly on animal test subjects. Science hopes that using salamander proteins on humans will make possible the regrowth of limbs.
Dr. Fiona Watt, of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, at the University of Oxford, said :
It is probably quite optimistic. But I think if we could improve growth of at least a single tissue like cartilage that would be a really great start.