Three Clues To Limb Regeneration

Will doctors ever be able to cure a missing limb or appendage?

Many lower organisms retain the miraculous ability to regenerate form and function of almost any tissue after injury. Humans share many of our genes with these organisms, but our capacity for regeneration is limited. Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, are studying the genetics of these organisms to find out how regenerative mechanisms might be activated in humans...

In a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, MDI Biological Laboratory scientists Benjamin L. King, Ph.D., and Voot P. Yin, Ph.D., identified these common genetic regulators in three regenerative species: the zebrafish, a common aquarium fish originally from India; the axolotl, a salamander native to the lakes of Mexico; and the bichir, a ray-finned fish from Africa.

The discovery of genetic mechanisms common to all three of these species, which diverged on the evolutionary tree about 420 million years ago, suggests that these mechanisms aren't specific to individual species, but have been conserved by nature through evolution.

"I remember that day very well -- it was a fantastic feeling," said King of the discovery. "We didn't expect the patterns of genetic expression to be vastly different in the three species, but it was amazing to see that they were consistently the same."

Regrowing limbs? Science fiction writer Frank Herbert's 1972 uneven but highly readable novel The Godmakers introduces this idea to readers.

Orne began to show small but steady signs of recovery... they placed him on an atlotl/gibiril regimen, forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers and eye, restore his scalp line and erase the other internal-external damage.
(Read more about Frank Herbert's Atlotl/Gibiril Regimen)

Also, in Snow in the Desert, a short story by Neal Asher, the main character chooses to conceal this capability after losing his hand to a flack shell during a duel:

Hirald gazed at him very directly. "How is your hand?"

Snow looked down at the stump. He unclipped the covering and pulled it off. What he exposed was recognizably a hand, though deformed and almost useless. The covering had been cleverly made to conceal it, to make it appear that the hand was missing.

Via Science Daily.

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