Delving Into Mammalian Regeneration

Scientists continue to work on the nuts and bolts of regeneration in mammals: greater understanding will lead to greater ability to improve upon what we have. From EurekAlert!: "Researchers previously believed that adult mammal skin could not regenerate hair follicles. In fact, investigators generally believe that mammals had essentially no true regenerative qualities. (The liver can regenerate large portions, but it is not de novo regeneration; some of the original liver has to remain so that it can regenerate.) ... In this study [dormant] embryonic molecular pathways were awakened, sending stem cells to the area of injury. Unexpectedly, the regenerated hair follicles originated from non-hair-follicle stem cells. ... We've found that we can influence wound healing with wnts or other proteins that allow the skin to heal in a way that has less scarring and includes all the normal structures of the skin, such as hair follicles and oil glands, rather than just a scar ... By introducing more wnt proteins to the wound, the researchers found that they could take advantage of the embryonic genes to promote hair-follicle growth, thus making skin regenerate instead of just repair. Conversely by blocking wnt proteins, they also found that they could stop the production of hair follicles in healed skin."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-05/uops-fdo051407.php

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