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Kangaroo Cartilage

September 15, 2015

Kangaroos could inspire the design of better artificial joints.



20423762350_c16f489bc7_z  Dan Armbrust flickr CC BY 2.0

Red kangaroos and humans use their forearms in similar ways. (Dan Armbrust/CC BY-NC 2.0, via flickr)

Kangaroo cartilage. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Could kangaroos hold the key to designing better artificial joints? Researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Australia think so. After severe injury, the cartilage that keeps our joints mobile and pain-free can be so badly damaged that artificial joint implants are needed. Mechanical engineer YuanTong Gu and his team write in Applied Physics Letters that kangaroos can help us understand the biomechanics of shoulder cartilage. That’s because the upright marsupials are about our size, and use their forearms in similar ways.

YUANTONG GU (Queensland University of Technology, Australia):

For example, to pick up food; and to punch the enemy. So this is why we selected kangaroo as an animal model for the study human shoulder cartilage.


Gu’s team found that collagen proteins near the surface of the kangaroo’s shoulder cartilage protects the tissue while absorbing impact. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.