June 11, 2023

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Scientists implanted horns on the heads of mice

Every spring, deer shed their antlers, and in early fall they have a new set. This bone formation that grows from the frontal bone of a deer can reach about three centimeters per day, which is one of the fastest rates of bone growth among mammals. Chinese scientists at Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xi’an have identified the stem cells responsible for this rapid growth. Carrying it out on mice, they grew antler-like structures on their foreheads. All this in order to better understand the newly recognized potential of cells in the context of regeneration, which in turn may be useful in developing new therapies in the regeneration of broken bones, and possibly in the regeneration of organs.

The description and results of the research have been published in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.add0488).

Regenerative medicine and deer antlers

The horns of some mammals grow at a rate of 2.75 cm per day at their peak. As you can clearly see, this tissue regenerates very quickly. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to take a closer look at how mammals in general are able to regenerate their cells. Antlers are particularly noteworthy in this context, because mammals have largely lost their ability to regenerate organs and most types of tissues. In contrast, a better understanding of the process of regular antler reconstruction is likely to be of medical interest, as it could open up new possibilities in the context of regeneration of fractured bones.