These Mice May Lead To Humans Unlocking Regenerative PowersBy: Zach Walton - September 26, 2012
Humans can’t regenerate wounded areas of the body. Sure, we can grow scar tissue to cover up broken skin, but there’s no real tissue regeneration present. What if humans were able to become like Wolverine from the X-Men and regenerate skin without any sign of trauma?
Researchers may have found the answer in two species of African spiny mice. These particular mice have been found to grow back lost skin and flesh. It isn’t a case of wounds healing with scar tissue either. The mice literally grow back everything that was lost including hair follicles, skin, sweat glands, fur and cartilage.
The mice evolved their regenerative powers because they were already weak. Nature describes the species’ skin as being “brittle and easily torn.” It turns out the weakness works in their favor as they’re able to easily escape predators. Any skin that is torn off is grown back with everything in tact.
It’s already impressive that these little guys can regrow skin, but what does it mean for humans? The head researcher, Ashley Seifert, believes that the African spiny mouse has been able to tap into a regeneration switch. What if humans could tap into the same genes that allow these mice to grow back skin? Could humans become far more resistant to damage?
According to the researchers, it’s entirely possible. They point to work that’s already being done in regenerative medicine. One process even involves the growth of organs through 3D printers. It’s all really impressive stuff, but it hasn’t come close to what these mice can do. Here’s hoping for a future where humans can start growing back lost limbs and skin without having to deal with rehab or invasive surgical procedures.
You can read a preview of the research right here.