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Regeneration Roundup

October 5, 2012

It was once thought that mammals can’t regenerate tissue in the same way that some reptiles do. But new research suggests this might not entirely be the case.



Regrowing tissue.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When lizards lose their tails, they can regrow them, thanks to cells that can initiate a process similar to what happens in developing embryos. It was thought to be impossible in mammals, but in the journal Nature, scientists report that the African spiny mouse can replace ear and skin tissue in a similar way. By studying the little rodent, the researchers hope to discover how humans could manage the same trick.

Also in the journal Nature, scientists have discovered why muscle repair declines with old age: stem cells stored in bone marrow that normally help repair damaged muscle tissue get depleted by a protein called FGF2. In geriatric mice, when researchers blocked this protein, the old mice could repair damaged muscles and get stronger. The team is investigating whether a similar approach could work in humans. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

The African spiny mouse may be able to regenerate some tissues. (Marcel Burkhard/Wikimedia Commons)