A small African mammal with an unusual ability to regrow damaged tissues could inspire new research in regenerative medicine, a University of Florida study finds.
For years biologists have studied salamanders for their ability to regrow lost limbs. But amphibian biology is very different than human biology, so lessons learned in laboratories from salamanders are difficult to translate into medical therapies for humans. New research in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Nature describes a mammal that can regrow new body tissues following an injury. The African spiny mouse could become a new model for research in regenerative medicine.
"The African spiny mouse appears to regenerate ear tissue in much the way that a salamander regrows a limb that has been lost to a predator," said Ashley W. Seifert, a postdoctoral researcher in UF's biology department. "Skin, hair follicles, cartilage -- it all comes back."
That's not the case in other mammals, he said. Usually scar tissue forms to fill the gap created by a wound.
The spiny mouse also regrows tissue on its main body when injured but not as completely as it does in its ears. "On their backs, they regrow hair follicles and skin, but the muscle beneath the skin doesn't regenerate," Seifert said.
Seifert was studying scar-free healing in amphibians when a colleague told him that a small rodent he had observed in Africa seemed capable of autotomy, a defense mechanism whereby the animal self-amputates a body part to escape a predator.
"Autotomy in skinks, geckos and some salamanders is well known," Seifert said. "But it is very rare in mammals, and so far we've only seen it in a few rodents that can jettison their tail."
Seifert's colleague said that the African spiny mouse appeared to have tear-away skin that allowed it to slip a predator's grasp. The notion was interesting enough to send Seifert packing to the Mpala Research Centre near Nairobi, Kenya.
In Nairobi, Seifert was able to document the first known case of skin autotomy in a mammal. But it was how the animals' injuries appeared to be healing that really got his attention.
Seifert used a 4mm biopsy punch, about the size of a large BB, to puncture holes in the ears of the mice to see if the animal showed regenerative capabilities.
"The results were astonishing," he said. "The various tissues in the ear grew back through formation of blastema-like structures -- the same sort of biological process that a salamander uses to regenerate a severed limb."
Ken Muneoka, a Tulane University professor of cell and molecular biology who was not involved with the study, agrees that Seifert's findings are important.
"It could represent a new model system for skin wound healing and tissue regeneration in humans," he said.
University of Florida: http://www.ufl.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
They didn't "chop up the mice", they were testing the limits of the mouse's natural regeneration abilities (ears = full, everything else = no muscle). Also, they only "hole punched their ears" so that they could see the process in action.
"Hey, I can regrow parts of my body with no scar tissue or lost function." "Okay, can you show me?" "What do you mean?" "You know, injure yourself so that I can watch your healing factor in action." "WHAT?!?! NO WAY!! I said I can do it, so you have to believe me." "That isn't how science works, so until you show me, everyone will think you are just a fraud."
That is how the science community reacts: they must see something in action, and be able to test it, in order to believe it.
If this is real, and the scientists are able to find a way to cause that kind of regrowth in other mammals via an artifical process, this would be a massive leap forward in treating everyone from burn victims to war amputees.
Results of largest ever genetics study of a single population could also help refine dates for major events during human evolution Humans are evolving more rapidly than previously thought, according to the largest ever genetics study of a single population.
Latest genetic tests reveal another break in the male line, potentially undermining the legitimacy of the entire House of Plantagenet When scientists revealed last year that an adulterous affair had apparently broken the male line in Richard III’s family tree, they vowed to investigate further.
By 2016, Icelandic genetics company deCODE will have data on half the country's population. Releasing the data will be controversial, but could save lives
A clinical trial has shown that the drug aducanumab slows cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer's and reduces the amount of amyloid plaque in their brain
A leading researcher issues a call for pills that deliver a full course of treatment in one swallow.One of the world’s preëminent biomedical researchers is calling for a concerted effort by scientists to develop pills that would stay in the stomach or gut for weeks or months once swallowed, delivering one or more drugs continuously or over set intervals.
Two genes responsible for building up drug-resistance can easily be shared between a family of bacteria
When malaria parasites infect blood, they manufacture odor molecules that smell sweet to mosquitoes, scientists report. So how do these odors get from the bloodstream to the insects?
Researchers are developing new method of wireless deep brain stimulation.
Zoos belonging to World Association of Zoos and Aquariums filmed allowing shocking mistreatment of elephants, dolphins, lions, bears, penguins and whales
Owners of Highland Wildlife Park hope Victoria, 18, will get chummy with male Arktos during her stay in the Cairngorms