Washington: Cartilage in human joints can repair itself through a process similar to that used by creatures such as salamanders and zebrafish to regenerate limbs, according to a study. The finding, published in the journal Science Advances, could potentially lead to treatments for osteoarthritis, the most common joint disorder in the world.
The researchers at Duke University Medical Center in the US identified a mechanism for cartilage repair that appears to be more robust in ankle joints and less so in hips. "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 Virginia Byers Kraus, a professor at Duke University.
The researchers devised a way to determine the age of proteins using internal molecular clocks integral to amino acids, which convert one form to another with predictable regularity. "If we can figure out what regulators we are missing compared with salamanders, we might even be able to add the missing components back and develop a way someday to regenerate part or all of an injured human limb," Kraus said.