Biology Lab Regenerates Limb Joints

NEW ORLEANS—In a biology lab at Loyola University New Orleans, something miraculous happened—something no scientist had seen before. Biology professor Rosalie Anderson, Ph.D., and her undergraduate students cut a tiny hole to remove just the elbow joint of a chicken embryo’s wing. Eighteen hours later, a new joint amazingly grew back.

Their findings were featured in the Dec. 6 issue of Science, one of the world’s top scientific journals, and the full scientific research published Dec. 15 in the journal Developmental Biology. Loyola senior biology major Jeffrey Coote is a co-author on that paper as well as two Loyola biology graduates, Mariana Zapata ‘11 and Daniel Frugé ‘12. Co-authors also include B. Duygu Özpolat, Ph.D., and Ken Muneoka, Ph.D., of Tulane University.

Chickens, unlike salamanders, typically do not regenerate amputated limbs and body parts, but Anderson and her students are discovering certain conditions where that’s possible. Anderson’s lab found that cells in the chicken embryo will actually migrate to the hole where the elbow joint once was to form a new one. Her team of Loyola undergraduate students are identifying and studying the cells and genes responsible for the phenomenon. Understanding that process could unlock clues for scientists looking to coax the human body into making new joints.

The genes important for a chicken’s development are the same genes found in humans, according to Anderson, a developmental biologist. That’s why it’s not that much of a stretch to see the possibilities of her findings and their implications for humans in the future, especially in regenerative medicine.

“The government is extremely interested in these projects because of veteran amputees,” Anderson said. Prosthetic limbs for those who are also missing joints such as a knee or elbow offer very limited mobility, according to Anderson. “But you could offer a whole new quality of life if you could restore the joint. If you can coax your own body cells into making something, you don’t have to worry about rejection issues,” Anderson said. “It’s a marvel to think about where we could go with the research that started here at Loyola.”

The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and represents a new and novel approach to studying joint regeneration and development by using chicken embryos as the model and focusing on larger joints that are directly applicable to elbow, hip and knee joints.

Contact Mikel Pak, associate director of public affairs, at 504-861-5448 for more information or to schedule an interview. HIGH-RESOLUTION IMAGES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.

Coaching Childcare Providers Offers Leverage On Impacting Childhood Obesity

A B C – 1 2 3, But What Is Good for Me?

08 November 2012 Elsevier

Coaching Childcare Providers Offers Leverage On Impacting Childhood Obesity

Philadelphia, PA, November 8, 2012 – The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys revealed that over 21% of children 2 to 5 years old were considered overweight or obese. Child care settings can serve as a platform to teach children about nutrition in our fight against childhood obesity, as nearly 50% of children in the United States under age 5 are enrolled in child care. In a new study released in the November/December 2012 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, training child care providers about their role in children’s healthful eating is an essential component of child care-based obesity prevention initiatives.

This study from Washington State University called the ENHANCE project, looked at 72 child care providers from 45 child care settings before and after a three-hour wellness retreat, and focused on feeding relationships, child nutrition education, and family communication. This forum provided tools and skills for providers to succeed in incorporating obesity prevention and healthful eating promotion within their child care setting. Based on observations and a survey before and one year after the wellness retreat, researchers found child care providers’ beliefs related to children’s healthful eating and feeding affected classroom practices. For example, if a child care provider felt confident in their ability to provide nutrition information, then they increased their nutrition education efforts and communicated more frequently with families about healthful eating and child feeding.

Jane D. Lanigan, PhD, the lead investigator from Washington State University, says, “Teachers did feel empowered to shape children’s food preferences and employed a variety of evidence-based practices during feeding. However, they felt uncertain about managing children’s intake or addressing child weight issues with parents. The current study suggests that the child care feeding environment can be improved by helping providers understand the negative consequences associated with feeding practices such as pressuring a child to eat, restricting highly palatable food, and using rewards to encourage children to eat healthful food or increase consumption.”

So why is this important for childcare? Dr. Lanigan says, “The potential for early learning professionals to contribute to the childhood obesity solution has yet to be fully realized. The ENHANCE project sought to position obesity prevention within the early learning philosophy of promoting the development of the ‘whole child’ and help child care providers connect child care feeding practices to children’s development of lasting beliefs about healthful eating.

“Incorporating child feeding training into state child care licensure, national certification, or as a requirement for participation in the Child & Adult Care Food Program are potential mechanisms for improving the child care feeding environment and addressing the childhood obesity epidemic.”

Attached files

  • child care providers can be part of the solution for childhood obesity, interview with study’s lead investigator, Jane D. Lanigan, PhD

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