Deer antlers may hold the secret to curing osteoporosis and other debilitating bone diseases, researchers have revealed.
A new study has identified the specific genes responsible for the growth and strength of antlers, paving the way for a future genetic treatment for human bone conditions.
A form of temporary external bone, antlers grow at a speed unique in the animal kingdom.
They sprout in the spring and by the summer can grow at up to 2cm a day, before beginning to shed by the start of winter.
Peter Yang, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Sanford University, began investigating deer after learning about the species while on holiday in Alaska.
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From samples taken from sprouting antlers, which are still soft and has a form similar to cartilage, his team identified the area of the animal’s genome governing the growth of antlers.
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The scientists believe this discovery may have transformative potential for medicine because both genes are also linked to bone development in humans, meaning a future treatment could stimulate their activity.
There’s more at the link.
I hope the research proves fruitful; but there’s one aspect of antlers that may have escaped scientific notice. Deer shed their antlers every year, and then grow new ones. Let’s hope that aspect of their genes isn’t carried over to humans, if experiments get that far! I mean, how would you like to be lying there in hospital as the doctor tells you, “The procedure was a success, and your osteoporosis has been reversed. Just remember, from now on, late every winter or early every spring, parts of your body are going to fall off!”