Antler study may benefit human health
08 Feb, 2006
Studying the biology of deer antlers may provide clues to many areas of human health and disease management, AgResearch scientists say.
Antler growth rate is one of the areas the BioActive Discovery Team at AgResearch is investigating.
“Deer antlers grow faster than any other known mammalian tissue type,” Dr Chunyi Li says.
“If we can learn the mechanism controlling antler regeneration we could begin to understand why humans cannot do likewise,” he adds.
The research may also benefit osteoporosis treatment. The scientists have found that deer can withdraw and replace calcium and other minerals from their bones, something humans are unable to do.
When antlers calcify in the autumn they absorb considerable amounts of minerals from bones elsewhere in the animal’s body. This eventually leaves certain bones, particularly the ribs and sternum, honeycombed and dangerously weakened. But the bones are back to full strength within two to three weeks.
Dr Li says this is very interesting because in humans osteoporosis cannot be reversed.
- 14 November 2007