March 10, 2014
A study of hibernating bears in Virginia could lead to improved treatment and even prevention of osteoporosis in humans.
According to a study by two professors at Penn State and Michigan Technical University, hibernating bears continue to regenerate bone matter, despite months of inactivity. The researchers want to know why that happens, and then look for ways to stimulate that process in humans.
Penn State Professor Henry Donahue said that during prolonged periods of inactivity brought on by disease or injury, human bone regeneration slows or stops.
By analyzing blood samples from black bears hibernating in Virginia, the researchers were able to determine that bears don't experience such profound bone loss.
They suspect a hormone or other chemical might be responsible.