Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Deer Antlers Couldn't Grow So Fast Without These Genes

          The antlers of deer are fascinating in the world of science due to their ability to grow and even re-grow quickly and effectively. Scientists and researchers know that this appendage is an important part to the animal's life, but the question that remains is, "How do the antlers grow so quickly, and how can we use this information in order to help people?".

          The researchers in this study have discovered in fallow deer that there are two genes involved in the regrowth of the antler, and have also discovered that humans, in fact, have the same combination of genes. Bone growth in humans and antler growth in deer are similar processes, however, antler growth is at a much faster rate than human bone growth which leads researchers to believe that there is something else effecting bone growth that humans may or may not possess. By discovering what ignites the genes in deer antlers to grow so quickly, we may be able to initiate this process in humans which could cure many diseases and even make our bones a little stronger.
          Dr. Yang, the scientist involved in this project, traveled to California in order to collect stem cell samples from male red deer. Taking the stem cells back to the lab, scientists compared the deer RNA to human RNA in order to search for overlaps. Afterwards, they took their findings and inserted them into lab mice to see what would occur phenotypically and to see if it affected any of their tissue growth.
          Eventually they narrowed down the genes into the two genes mentioned previously, uhrfl and s100a10. Both of these genes are related to bone development in the human genome. Their findings were that when the uhrfl gene was shut down, bone growth slowed. When the s100a10 gene was put to work the rate of calcium deposits increased and cells mineralized more rapidly. All in all, both genes are responsible in deer for the rapid growth of antlers.
          Although these are amazing findings, there is still a lot of research to be done. As of right now, this stands as a very promising discovery for the health community, as well as the world. I thought this article was interesting because it mentions that it may be able to help people with common diseases like osteoporosis. As I was reading, I thought that this could help a lot of people with diseases that are so rare that they are only found in a few people around the world. I think this study is really promising for the health industry and I hope that we will be able to control these two genes in order to ease some symptoms or even cure the people that are really suffering with diseases related to these two genes.

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