Limb Regeneration On The Horizon?
Some animals cite extraordinary regenerative powers, some regrowing entire limbs, while others such as us humans can regrow a lost fingertip including nail, nerves and bone at most. The process through which this occurs has been poorly understood since its discovery but now in a new paper published in the journal Nature the mechanism behind this process has been revealed. There is a population of stem cells in the nail bed which is rich with nerve endings and blood vessels in order to stimulate growth. These stem cells can grow and develop into any cell required, and have been found to be controlled by a set of proteins which have come to be known as the Wnt signaling network. This same network of signals plays a role in other regenerative processes such as hair and skin growth. Researchers found that when they blocked the Wnt pathway, the amputated fingertips did not grow back as usual; but more dramatically they found that they could extend this regenerative process to more than just the fingertip. These findings suggest that a therapy for regrowing limbs for amputees around the world could be coming out way, although there is still a lot of work to do.