Scientists have unlocked the genetic mystery that allows a lizard to regrow its tail, bringing closer the possibility of treatments to help humans regenerate severed limbs or spinal cords.
Understanding how they shed and regrow their tails could lead to muscle and nerve regeneration in humans.
New research by academics in the U.S. has revealed the “recipe” the creatures use to form a new tail, which they say relies on a very specific combination of genetic ingredients.
The team from Arizona State University (ASU) used cutting-edge gene-sequencing technology to study the green anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis, which when caught by a predator, can shed its tail in order to escape.
They hope their findings will help lead to discoveries of new treatments for missing limbs, spinal cord injuries, birth defects and diseases such as arthritis.
“Using next-generation technologies to sequence all the genes expressed during regeneration, we have unlocked the mystery of what genes are needed to regrow the tail,” said lead author Kenro Kusumi, professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences.
“By following the genetic recipe for regeneration that is found in lizards, and then harnessing those same genes in human cells, it may be possible to regrow new cartilage, muscle or even spinal cord in the future.”
Read the full, original story: How humans could grow new limbs like lizards