Context: Scientists are studying how the Mexican axolotl quickly regenerates lost limbs, gills, tails, eyes, and even parts of the head. Studying regeneration in other species could help researchers understand how to increase human’s chances to regenerate lost body parts and develop regenerative medicines.
Regeneration of body parts:
- Regeneration means the regrowth of a damaged or missing organ part from the remaining tissue.
- Regeneration can happen in different ways using pluripotent stem cells or somatic stem cells (tissue-specific stem cells). Some regeneration can also happen without stem cells at all (E.g., the regeneration of Zebra fish hearts)
- Some human organs, E.g., the liver and skin, also regenerate when they are damaged.
- If part of the liver is lost by disease or injury, the liver grows back to its original size, though not its original shape.
- Our skin is constantly being renewed and repaired. However, skin cannot restore lost or damaged tissue to its original state.
- Axolotl is a species of salamander (lizard-like amphibian) originally found in Lake Xochimilco, near Mexico City.
- It is renowned for its ability to regenerate its spinal cord, heart and limbs. These amphibians can regenerate parts of their brains, even if a large section was completely removed and can readily make new neurons throughout their lives.
- They are now almost extinct in the wild and bred in captivity.
- IUCN status: Critically Endangered