esocid tips us to news out of Duke University Medical Center, where researchers have discovered a type of microRNA that is related to the ability of zebrafish to regenerate lost or damaged organs
. This is the result of a study initiated after it was discovered that zebrafish were able to recover from "massive injury" to the heart
through their own regenerative biology. The scientists hope to be able to use this information to bring about similar healing in humans. Zebrafish have also been helpful in cancer research
"In zebrafish, one or more microRNAs appear to be important to keep regeneration on hold until the fish needs new tissue, the Duke researchers say. In response to an injury, the fish then damp down levels of these microRNAs to aid regrowth. Poss and many other cell biologists believe that mammals may have the same tissue regeneration capability as zebrafish, salamanders and newts, but that it is locked away somewhere in our genome, silenced in the course of evolution."