We’re One Step Closer to Making Limb Regeneration a Reality
Newts can regenerate limbs as both babies and adults. That’s unique among amphibians, and a trait that scientists would love to replicate for humans. One of the biggest hurdles in doing that was the need for adult cells to return to an infantile state for the regeneration process — but researchers at the University of Tsukuba have just eradicated that limitation.
According to a study released in Nature, the researchers discovered that adult newts regrow lost limbs using different mechanism than they do as babies. Newts regenerate limbs thanks to skeletal muscle fiber cells (SMFCs) and muscle stem/progenitor cells (MPCs). Both cells spur the creation of blastema, a mass of cells that can grow into organs or body parts, as you can see here:
We’re a long way from using SMFCs to regenerate human limbs. But now that we know there’s a different mechanism for regenerating adult cells, we’ve got renewed hope in using newts as a model for limb regeneration in humans. The most likely potential treatments might come from genomics . Only time will tell.