By researching cells in genetically modified salamanders, scientists have found an explanation for salamanders' uncanny ability to regrow lost limbs.
Contrary to previous belief, the salamanders' "cellular clocks" don't fully reset, reverting to an embryonic state. Instead, the cells in the salamanders’ stumps become slightly less mature versions of the cells they’d been before.
“The cells don’t have to step as far back as we thought they had to, in order to regenerate a complicated thing like a limb. There’s a higher chance that human or mammalian cells can be induced into doing the same thing," states Elly Tanaka, co-author of the study.
“The salamanders are dialing the timeline back a few steps,” said
Sánchez Alvarado, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute stem cell biologist.
“They don’t go all the way back and ask a cell to catch up,”
The study raises new possibilities for replacing lost or diseased tissue in humans.
Image: "Salamander" by nyki_m on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.Tweet