Scientists Are One Step Closer to Making Full-On Regeneration Possible in Humans, But It Is an Unexpected Approach

Featured in the image is an albino Axolotl |

Regenerating limbs is currently only possible in comic books, but this might change in the future.

According to Futurism, scientists are hard at work on finding ways for people to have the ability to regrow limbs — and the key to all this might be the axolotl.

At the moment, regeneration in humans only goes so far as to regrowing skin for shallow cuts or fusing two broken bones to become a new working one.

The only creature in the real world that can fully repair and regenerate damaged limbs by itself is the axolotl, which is also known as the Mexican salamander.

The most fascinating thing about these amphibians is that they can essentially regrow in just over the course of a few months copies of the appendages that are just as good as the ones they lose.

This is by using their oncogenes, which cause cell division and are vital to the healing process, hand in hand with tumor suppressor genes, which basically tell the oncogenes to stop dividing after the body grows back just what it needs.

There are some cases where the axolotl even regenerates the less vital parts of their brains. Making things more intriguing is that they can also accept transplants such as organs or eyes that and use them to full functionality.

Scientists are currently finding ways to copy the axolotl's regeneration attribute over to humans. This is not all too impossible since both species actually share an ancestor in the salamander.

However, this is proving to be quite the challenge to uncover since the DNA of human beings is extremely different from what it looked like at the start.

There is still so much to be excited about though. Researchers at Harvard Medical Center and The Children's Hospital Boston are working on a gene called Lin28a, which can increase metabolism and trick the body into thinking it is younger than it actually is.

The gene is currently being tested on mice. Parts of their ears, toes, and fur that were surgically removed for the experiment grew back rapidly and were fully functional, thanks to Lin28a.

They hit a bit of a stumbling block, though. The gene appears to have stopped working on the mice after the animals turned five weeks old.

There is also the question of how to make the gene work with essential organs that will allow human beings to grow a limb or even a heart immediately. While it worked to an extent, it seems that there is a long way to go if Lin28a will be the path to take on in developing full regeneration in humans.

For now, experts are more inclined to exploring 3D printing as a solution. While it is the opposite of the idea, it has proven to be quite promising as well with scientists having already successfully printed tissues onto hearts and livers.

The next step is to be able to fully 3D-print organs, which is not too shabby. If regrowing the appendages axolotl-style is not possible at the moment, regrowing them from outside the body might be the next best and most attainable thing.

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