Many years ago studies in the laboratory of our colleague Susan V. Bryant at the University of California, Irvine, demonstrated that the cells in the blastema are equivalent to the cells in the developing limb bud of the salamander embryo. This discovery suggested that the construction of a limb by the blastema is essentially a recapitulation of the limb formation that took place during the animal’s original development. An important implication of this insight was that the same genetic program is involved in both situations, and because humans make limbs as embryos, in principle we should already have the necessary programming to regenerate them as adults, too. It seemed, therefore, that all scientists needed to do was figure out how to induce an amputated limb to form a blastema.
The April issue of Scientific American looks at research that may one day lead to self-regeneration of human body parts. Link -via Digg
(image credit: Aaron Goodman)