The Dream of Regeneration

This research looks very promising as reported at Scientific American:

In the course of his cancer research George Daley of Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School was trying to clip holes in the ears of genetically engineered mice so he could tell them apart when, surprisingly, the wounds kept healing. Then he tried a backup identification technique—clipping off the tips of their toes—but the toes regrew. Daley and his colleagues also waxed the backs of the mice and were shocked to find that the fur rapidly grew back. These lab mice had been genetically engineered so that Lin28a remained switched on rather than shutting down after birth, apparently giving the mice supergrowth abilities. “We knew [Lin28a] could reprogram cells back to embryoniclike stem cells but we made this other discovery largely by accident,” says Daley, whose team’s findings were published in the November 7 issue of Cell. The team found they could replicate the healing abilities of the engineered mice by giving nongenetically altered ones drugs that help activate certain metabolic processes—the same pathway Lin28a stimulates—revving up and energizing cells as if they were much younger.

I think of all the soldiers injured the last ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Perhaps this gives hope that they may one day be whole again.


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