Will we soon be able to regenerate limbs?

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[Axolotl] salamanders stand out as the only vertebrates that can replace complex body parts that are lost at any age, which is why researchers seeking answers about regeneration have so often turned to them.

[However,] the axolotl’s enormous and repetitive genome stubbornly resisted sequencing. Then a European research team overcame the hurdles and finally published a full genetic sequence for the laboratory axolotl.

[T]he availability of the full axolotl genome sequence puts researchers in a much better position to answer major questions about how regeneration works in the animals. For example, does an axolotl regrow its limbs using unique genes? Or does it use genes that other animals (including humans) share, but does it control them differently? Those answers are still to come.

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If regeneration is an ancient trait, mammals like humans could have some of the tools still kicking around in their genetic drawers. It may be that other healing processes we’ve evolved, such as scarring, get in the way and block regeneration from happening.

Based on her research, [Jessica] Whited thinks humans have more regenerative tools than we get credit for. If we could create the right environment in our bodies, we might be able to harness those tools. Someday, maybe, we could regrow limbs.

Read full, original post: Salamander’s Genome Guards Secrets of Limb Regrowth

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