Did you know that your ribs could regenerate?

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Mouse rib cage stained to show cartilage (blue) and bone (red) (Photo/Francesca Mariani)
Mouse rib cage stained to show cartilage (blue) and bone (red)
(Photo/Francesca Mariani)

Unlike reptiles, humans cannot regenerate limbs, but we can regenerate and repair large portions of our ribs. Employing CT imaging, the healing of the human limb was monitored after a human rib was partially removed surgically. Eight centimeters of a rib and one centimeter of a cartilage was removed. These portions partially regenerated and repaired in six months. At the same time, three to five millimeters of rib cartilage was surgically removed from mice, to better understand the regeneration process.

The researchers from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, found that when they removed both rib cartilage and its surrounding sheath of tissue – called the “perichondrium,” the missing sections failed to repair even after nine months. However, when they removed rib cartilage but left its perichondrium, the missing sections entirely repaired within one to two months.

Also, they found that a perichondrium retains the ability to produce cartilage even when disconnected from the rib and displaced into nearby muscle tissue – further suggesting that the perichondrium contains stem cells. This is good news for all researchers working on stem cells.

Full details of the discovery can be accessed here.

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (www.sciglo.com); -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo (www.sciglo.com) and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.