Chinese researchers are growing deer antlers on mice as a model for studying organ regeneration

I was notified of this by Twitter. Thanks Twitter; although I’m now bombarded with unsettling and upsetting examples of the poor human-animal relationship. Too much animal abuse in the world I am afraid. This is one example. And unsurprisingly (sorry if that sounds racist or biased) it comes from China where arguably they have the world’s worst human-to-animal relationship from the standpoint of the animals.

It is so bad there are almost no animal welfare laws. Certainly, no general animal welfare law protecting animals which is a huge and shameful omission for the world’s second largest economy.

The tweet says that some people find this kind of animal testing scientific research acceptable and asks if you do. All the respondent on Twitter said no. Like me, they find it objectionable to put it mildly.

Growing antlers on mice in a Chinese animal testing lab.
Growing antlers on mice in a Chinese animal testing lab. Click image to see a larger version. Image source: Twitter.

Some responses

“China has no boundaries….” (Comment: in relation to animals this is true as evidence by the lack of animal welfare laws mentioned).

“Do experiments on humans if they are the beneficiaries. Pay humans for their time and participation. “(Comment: true again but humans are too human-centric and speciesism is too deeply embedded in their psyche to consider humans as suitable for animal experiments).

“Maybe they could grow themselves a fucking heart.” (I like this one. Millions of Chinese living in China have a heart on animal welfare. They really do. But the underlying culture is without heart).

“We now have ways to do it artificially without needing live test subjects…this makes me so sad.” (Indeed, we have the tech now, as I understand it, to do away with animal experiments. I guess it is cheaper to use and abuse animals).

Daily Mail report

I can add some detail thanks to the Daily Mail online. The author of that article, Fiona Jackson, rather enthusiastically states that “Chinese scientists use stem cell technology to grow antlers on MICE in breakthrough that could one day allow humans to regrow lost LIMBS.” Unsurprisingly, she makes no mention of the ethics of the experiments.

Deers regrow their antlers every year because of stem cells at the base of the antlers. These cells transform into blastema cells which regrow into bone and antler cartilage. The scientists transported these blastema cells into the mice to grow antler-like stumps on their heads.

The research took place at Northwestern Polytechical University in Xi’an, China. Forty-five days after transplanting the blastema cells, the mice began to grow small stumps. The scientists hope that the procedure may help to repair bones or cartage in humans and even grow back lost limbs.

The antlers of deer are the only mammalian body part which regenerates annually. The tissue within antlers is the fastest-growing in nature apparently.

Our results suggest that deer have an application in clinical bone repair. Beyond that, the induction of human cells into ABPC-like cells could be used in regenerative medicine for skeletal injuries or limb regeneration.

The lead author Tao Quin

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.