Human regeneration capacity may be similar to that of salamanders
A study by Duke University in the United States suggests that humans may have a regeneration ability similar to that of salamanders. Unlike animals, humans are not able to regenerate lost limbs. However, according to the study, human cartilage has greater regeneration power than imagined.
The study focused on microRNA, a molecule present in regenerating animals, such as the salamander. In humans, the molecule can be found in body parts such as the ankle.
MicroRNA and Regeneration
The microRNA molecule is responsible for the regeneration mechanism in the ankle, knee and hip cartilage. Their presence is, however, unequal in the different parts of the body, giving them different "ages". This explains how quickly ankle injuries are healed, as opposed to slower knee and hip injuries.
The study was conducted by analyzing tissue fragments of the three parts of the body. With the aid of an apparatus, the protein age of each cartilage fragment was calculated from the condition of its structures. The presence of the microRNA molecule was linked to more resistant proteins less affected by the natural aging process.
The study opens the possibility for future new treatments based on the use of microRNA. Scientists have the possibility to develop, for example, a compound with the molecule designed to strengthen specific parts of the cartilage.
The use of the molecule would be a major breakthrough in treating joint complications such as osteoarthritis. Athletes who have suffered injuries would also benefit from possible treatment. The discovery has brought even the limb regeneration to debate.
At the moment, however, research aims to understand which evolutionary mechanisms led the body's extremities to have the greatest regeneration power. Another aspect to be studied is which elements in the salamander, for example, are not present in humans regarding the action of microRNA.