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Do humans have the ability to regenerate “untapped” parts of the body?

What if humans could actually regenerate parts of the body? That’s a question that sounds a bit like a myth, but that’s what researchers are trying to figure out.

The researchers, led by Dr. James Godwin of the MDI Biological Laboratory in the United States, have just published a new article in the journal Developmental Dynamics, looking at the difference between a mammal and a very special thunderstorm species called axolotl.

Axolotl is critically endangered in the wild but persists in captivity. They are incredible creatures with the unique ability to regenerate a wide range of body parts.

Some salamanders as well as other lizards and amphibians have the ability to regenerate something like a tail, but the axolotl has taken that ability and taken it to the extreme. Axolotls have the ability to regenerate tails, legs, and skin, but they can also develop new lungs, ovaries, spinal cord, and even a new brain or heart if needed.

By studying what happens to wounds at the molecular level in axolotls and mice, which are mammals that don’t have such strong resilience, scientists have discovered something very interesting.

They found that immune cells that trigger a response to injury, called macrophages, are the key link in harnessing animals’ ability to repel parts of the body. Specifically, Dr. Godwin demonstrated that when an axolotl has too few of these immune cells to respond to injury, a missing part of the body cannot grow back and ends up with a scar.

In both mice and humans, macrophages trigger healing rather than regeneration, but that could change.

“Our research shows that humans have untapped potential for regeneration. If we can solve the problem of scar formation, we could unleash our latent regenerative potential. formed, it is regeneratively terminated. If we can prevent scarring in humans, we could improve the quality of life for so many people, ”Godwin said.

Digging deeper into the immune response, the researchers found that a signal from a specific protein appears to be responsible for a specific macrophage response. The team found that the responses in axolotl and rat tissue were surprisingly different. This suggests that if we can actually alter this signal, we could trigger regeneration in tissue in mice and possibly in humans.

Godwin further explains, “We are getting closer to understanding how axolotl macrophages aid regeneration, which will bring us closer to the possibility of harnessing regeneration in humans. with a substance that could change the behavior of macrophages like axolotl. “

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