Further Investigation of Deer Antlers

One lesser branch of regenerative medicine is involved in searching the animal kingdom for examples of potent regeneration and seeking to understand the mechanisms involved. For example, there is the quest to discover whether the potential for salamander-like organ and limb regeneration, observed in many lower species, lies dormant in mammals by virtue of being an ancient process, evolved long ago and shared across most species. The jury is still out on that question - more work is needed.

Searching for exceptional regeneration in mammals is also a viable strategy - there are fewer instances, but the thinking is that whatever mechanisms are involved would be easier to introduce to humans. Deer antlers are one of the better known examples, and here researchers dig into some the cellular biochemistry involved. This is a small start; there are actually very few researchers looking at deer in this way, probably fewer than are, say, working with regeneration in salamanders or zebrafish:

A team of researchers [have] reported finding evidence that deer antlers - unique in that they regenerate annually - contain multipotent stem cells that could be useful for tissue regeneration in veterinary medicine. "We successfully isolated and characterized antler tissue-derived multipotent stem cells and confirmed that the isolated cells are self-renewing and can differentiate into multiple lineages. Using optimized culture conditions, deer antler displayed vigorous cell proliferation."

Deer antler is of interest, said the researchers, "because antlers are very peculiar organs in that they are lost and re-grown annually....a rare example of a completely regenerating organ in mammals." According to the researchers, they subjected deer antler to differentiation assays for osteogenic (bone), adipogenic (fat) and chondrogenic (cartilage) lineages under culture conditions specific for each lineage to confirm the multi-lineage differentiation ability of antler multipotent stem cells. They concluded that deer antler tissue might be a "valuable source of stem cells" that could "be a potentially useful source of regenerative therapeutics in veterinary science."

The researchers noted that the development of deer-specific antibodies "is essential to confirm the identification of antler multipotent stem cells". They specifically noted that injury to wild animals, including deer, might be treated using deer antler derived cells. They also pointed out that studies involving the use of horse stem cells have found clinical application of equine-derived stem cells.

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-03/ctco-cts031913.php


Just wanted to point out that Ray Lewis, from the Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens, has been accused of using "deer antler spray" to speed his recovery from a biceps tendon tear he suffered in early October. You may have known this, but I thought I would point it out for some of your readers who may know.

It is impossible to tell, first, that he used the spray or that it sped his recovery. It is interesting to note that this spray is being actively marketed.

Posted by: Dan C at March 20th, 2013 10:09 AM

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