Channeling our ‘inner salamander’: Research suggests humans have ability to repair overworked cartilage

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Image: Anita363/Flickr

Our bodies have retained the capacity to repair injured or overworked cartilage in our joints, says new research published [October 9] in Science Advances. Remarkably, the mechanics of this healing process are practically the same as what’s used by amphibians and other animals to regenerate lost limbs, according to the study.

“We call it our ‘inner salamander’ capacity.”

The scientists who identified this previously unknown human capacity are hopeful their findings could lead to powerful new therapies to treat common joint disorders and injuries, including osteoarthritis. More radically, this healing mechanism “might be exploited to enhance joint repair and establish a basis for human limb regeneration,” the authors wrote in the paper.

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[T]he age of cartilage proteins could be correlated to the body part in which they resided; the cartilage proteins, including collagen, in ankles were young, in knees they were middle-aged, and in the hips they were old.

Interestingly, this could explain why, in humans, the hips and knees require more time to heal than ankles and why ankles are less susceptible to severe arthritis. As [professor of medicine Virginia] Kraus explained to Gizmodo, hips are twice as likely to need joint replacements.

Read full, original post: Humans Have a ‘Salamander-Like’ Ability to Regenerate Damaged Body Parts, Study Finds

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