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Digital X-ray microtomography yields stunning views of limb regeneration

Employing high-tech, digital X-ray microtomography (microCT), Northwestern University scientists have discovered the way in which newts form new bone and cartilage during limb regeneration. Newts are a type of salamander, the only vertebrates capable of rebuilding lost structures such as limbs throughout their lifetimes.

Reporting in the January issue of Developmental Dynamics, Northwestern researchers Hans-Georg Simon and Stuart Stock showed that bone formation in a regenerated forelimb combines elements of embryonic development and of adult wound healing.

Results of their research, which have not been observed before in other studies, may have implications for replacement of limb parts missing from injury or birth defects, and, ultimately, for growing new tissue from parts of organs such as livers.

Simon is assistant professor of pediatrics at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and a developmental biologist at the Children's Memorial Institute for Education and Research. Stock is research professor at the Feinberg School and a material scientist at the Institute for Bioengineering and Nanoscience in Advanced Medicine at Northwestern University.

MicroCT shows promise for detecting and characterizing soft tissue structures, skeletal abnormalities and tumors in live animals, Stock said. It provides high-resolution images (typically 25 micrometers or less) and rapid data acquisition (5 to 30 minutes).

"MicroCT data sets show us how mineral is distributed within bones," he said. "Mineral distribution affects the susceptibility of bone to fracture, for example, a major concern in osteoporosis."

"Because the structure of a given bone varies greatly between individuals, changes in bone are seen most clearly if the same volume of tissue is examined noninvasively at different points in time. This is what microCT is able to do," Stock said.

In the study reported in Developmental Dyna
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Contact: Elizabeth Crown and Ellen Hunt
e-crown@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
22-Jan-2003


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