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Biotech Medicine Science

First Mammals Observed Regenerating Tissue 89

Posted by samzenpus
from the tiny-healing-factor dept.
ananyo writes "Two species of African spiny mouse have been caught at something no other mammal is known to do — completely regenerating damaged tissue. The work could help improve wound healing in humans. The species — Acomys kempi and Acomys percivali — have skin that is brittle and easily torn, which helps them to escape predators by jettisoning patches of their skin when caught or bitten. Researchers report that whereas normal laboratory mice (Mus musculus) grow scar tissue when their skin is removed, African spiny mice can regrow complete suites of hair follicles, skin, sweat glands, fur and even cartilage (abstract). Tissue regeneration has not been seen in mammals before, though it is common in crustaceans, insects, reptiles and amphibians."
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First Mammals Observed Regenerating Tissue

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  • by trdtaylor (2664195) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:08AM (#41485423)

    I can regenerate my balls now

    • by Cryacin (657549)
      Ah, she'd just take them away from your again.
    • I wonder how selective this surgery would be. Not so good if one's vasectomy (or other intentional surgeries which might be interpreted as "damage") suddenly repairs itself...

  • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:13AM (#41485447) Journal

    I've spent the last 20 years perfecting my Unix skills. The main thing I've always felt was holding me back form perfect success is a lack of a neck beard and no where near enough sweat glands. This may finally get me to perfect my professional arts.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by c0lo (1497653)

      I've spent the last 20 years perfecting my Unix skills. The main thing I've always felt was holding me back form perfect success is a lack of a neck beard and no where near enough sweat glands. This may finally get me to perfect my professional arts.

      No disrespect, but...

      Bad news: wrong choice as repository. If you haven't have them ever, you have nothing to regenerate - you'll need to grow them anew, which is in totally different another repo ( :-P hint - your parents, if still in business, may know something about it).
      Good news - the UNIX world evolved: with a correct choice of repositories, good chances that you can "apt-get install neck-beard" or "yum install neck-beard" (that is: no longer need to manually download the patches to apply them).

    • by sinij (911942)
      I'd consider it a birth-defect, and sadly your only choice is a prosthetic neck-beard.
  • by 427_ci_505 (1009677) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:20AM (#41485459)

    Where trolls are actually on-topic?

  • Itchy & Scratchy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:29AM (#41485493) Journal

    So when Tom smashes Jerry with a frying pan, and Jerry shakes it off and goes back to work, it's not so far fetched after all.

    • by EdIII (1114411)

      No doubt.

      I'm waiting for the ground breaking research which supports the Road Runner's theories on gravity.

      • by ericloewe (2129490) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:01AM (#41485813)

        I'm more interested in that ACME selective quantum-tunnelling paint that creates a railway tunnel on any flat surface.

        Sounds like a logical first step towards a Portal Gun.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'm more interested in that ACME selective quantum-tunnelling paint that creates a railway tunnel on any flat surface.

          Sounds like a logical first step towards a Portal Gun.

          It has nothing to do with quantum-tunnelling. The paint contains an element that creates a reality distortion field. The RDF can also be used to create doorways that leads to a hidden room only when the right person opens them and it can also wrap time so that it appears as if you invented the wheel first even if everyone else have already used it. If used correctly a reality distortion field can also make bugs look like well designed features and lack of functions as user friendly.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            It has nothing to do with quantum-tunnelling. The paint contains an element that creates a reality distortion field. The RDF can also be used to create doorways that leads to a hidden room only when the right person opens them and it can also wrap time so that it appears as if you invented the wheel first even if everyone else have already used it. If used correctly a reality distortion field can also make bugs look like well designed features and lack of functions as user friendly.

            So that means Apple will be suing Amce? Don't they have a patent on the reality distortion field?

            • by Cryacin (657549)

              Don't they have a patent on the reality distortion field?

              Man, if there's ONE thing that Steve Jobs really did invent, it's a reality distortion field.

  • I believe we are considered mammals...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regeneration_%28biology%29#Humans

    • by ldobehardcore (1738858) <steven,dubois&gmail,com> on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:07AM (#41485633)

      Yeah, but if you read the article you'd know humans suck at regeneration. It's not impressive that we can regenerate (very, very slowly) the extreme tip of a finger or toe (as long as all the knuckles are left intact), or the kidney *MIGHT* regenerate somewhat, but doesn't happen often enough to be in the literature or commonly suspected. And we can regrow a rib or two over the course of *YEARS* as long as the sac surrounding the rib remains intact.

      About the only thing we humans are good at regrowing is liver, and that's only with healthy liver, and doesn't work rupture or puncture that isn't cauterized/sutured. We'll completely regrow a new liver if as much of 3/4ths are removed. Which is actually pretty impressive. But not very cool as a superpower....

      The point of the discovery is that there's interesting mechanisms at work allowing these mice to heal in an absolutely complete way, never before documented in mammals. And with further study we might be able to apply their biochemistry to the human healing process. There's a lot of potential, and it looks like an interesting, if not promising, avenue for research.

      Quit bitching, cuz I'll bet 10:1 if you lose the tip of your finger, you'll likely not regrow it, and if you do, there will be a lot of scar tissue. If you lose a square inch of skin all at once, there WILL be extensive scarring.

      These mice don't scar. How is that not awesome.

      • by david.given (6740) <dg@cRASPowlark.com minus berry> on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:22AM (#41486051) Homepage Journal

        Hell, yes. Even if whatever technique the mice use is only applicable to skin, this is still awesome: skin replacement is a serious problem on humans. Just ask any burn victim. But skin's a pretty complex organ --- it is, basically, an insulated sac containing the universe --- and if that can be successfully regenerated then there's a good chance the technique might work on other soft tissue.

        What would be really awesome is if the regenerated skin hooks up to the nervous system. If so, that means it's regenerating nerves too.

      • by Type44Q (1233630)

        But not very cool as a superpower....

        I can think of a few people who seemed to gain superhuman powers when they were plastered; maybe you're onto something here...

      • by gr8_phk (621180)

        Quit bitching, cuz I'll bet 10:1 if you lose the tip of your finger, you'll likely not regrow it, and if you do, there will be a lot of scar tissue. If you lose a square inch of skin all at once, there WILL be extensive scarring.

        Have you heard about "pig powder"? I'm still trying to figure out if it's for real, and how good it actually is. Also, from what I've been reading, it looks like scarring is a short-term patch that actually needs to be suppressed (or removed) as a prerequisite for regeneration.

        • by holmstar (1388267)
          IIRC, the "pig powder" you're referring to is just powdered cellular matrix (basically pig tissue with the cells themselves removed). I remember reading that there was a study showing that this powdered cellular matrix aided regenerative healing if placed on a fresh wound. It wouldn't replace scar tissue with normal tissue, but would instead prevent the scar tissue from being produced in the first place.
    • by Zordak (123132)
      And in Time Lords. [wikipedia.org]
  • Just in time for the next SpiderMan movie.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @02:00AM (#41485609)

    MRL mice have been observed doing this for over a DECADE now. Hell, we've narrowed down the gene responsible, even.

    Here's an article from /. in 2002 on the subject: http://science.slashdot.org/story/02/09/26/1211256/human-limb-regeneration-a-possibility?sdsrc=next
    Here's an article from /. in 2010 on the subject: http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/03/17/1425241/scientists-demonstrate-mammalian-tissue-regeneration

    Here's a video on the subject: http://vimeo.com/19096437

    And here's my faith in /.'s editorial staff:

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What they mean by "first" is "first naturally observed", as the MRL is a human-bred strain of rodent. I don't know enough to tell you exactly what the MRL is, but I'm guessing someone out there is enough of an expert to reference: http://jaxmice.jax.org/strain/000486.html and fill us in. From what I see it's not the same species as the article's subject.

      The article is referring to two different wild mouse species, so it is a first in that we haven't seen it in nature before this.

    • by ananyo (2519492) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:57AM (#41486161)

      That's an interesting story (covered quite well on the BBC unusually http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4888080.stm [bbc.co.uk]) but my faith in /.'s editorial staff is intact. The article you link to are about mice with various genes missing - it's an engineered lab mouse mdoel. The mice in the story here regenerate naturally. MRL mice are a disease model - and carry a lupus like disease - ie autoimmune disease-bad news (I'm not sure whether that's because of the missing p21 gene but it's quite possible. Disentangling that from the regenerative abilities is going to be tough - and they haven't managed it yet by the looks of things).
      The fact these mice do this naturally, with no other ill-effects, is much more important in terms of making an impact on human health.

  • I remember an article on Scientific American about limb regeneration. Salamanders are the gold standard for regenerating limbs but the article stated that rat/mice are capable of fully regenerate fingers (don't remember if talking of common rat or MRL mice) and with treatment a human could regrow part of fingers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regeneration_(biology)#Mammals [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy_Roths_Large [wikipedia.org] http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?article_id=218392774&cat=1_2 [sciencentral.com] http://w [scientificamerican.com]
  • hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:10AM (#41485839)
    What something means to regenerate is debatable. Are damaged neurons being replaced a part of normal cell division or regeneration? Is it regeneration because it is a response to damage or loss of function? Personally I see regeneration as the ability to replace something completely destroyed or damaged. (I.E. a part isn't merely healed) This is still not black or white. When you have regained full speaking ability after a stroke has your brain healed a certain area or regenerated it? I would see this as healing as the brain rarely if ever regains full ability after a complete loss of a function.

    What about fingers [wikipedia.org]?

    In May 1932, L.H. McKim published a report inThe Canadian Medical Association Journal, that described the regeneration of an adult digit-tip following amputation. A house surgeon in the Montreal General Hospital underwent amputation of thedistal phalanxto stop the spread of an infection. In less than one month following surgery, x-ray analysis showed the regrowth of bone while macroscopic observation showed the regrowth of nail and skin.

    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:51AM (#41486143)
      Healing is sealing the wound with fibrous tissue (scar), whereas regeneration is where, instead of a permanent scar forming, the original tissue is rebuilt and full function is restored. It really is black and white; They have distinct definitions.

      Per your example, I don't believe the brain "heals" as such; I'm no human biologist, but basic science states that after a certain age your brain is pretty much as is, and any damage is permanent. Your brain may re-train itself to process speech in a different way after a stroke, but I wouldn't call it healing. The area which was damaged is still damaged. It's certainly not regenerated, as that would require complete repair of any damage, which would make degenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons a thing of the past.

      Someone else may know more, but this is how I understand it.
      • I'm recovering from a head injury right now. The doctors told me that my brain would slowly heal itself over 2-3 years. I didn't ask questions that weren't about me, so I can't say if it's the type of injury I sustained or something else specific to my case. I did verify that my brain would actually be healing and they said that it would, and I wouldn't just be learning to live with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    TFA says that the ability extends even into the mice's ear holes, so does that mean they can regenerate damaged hearing? As I understand it, noise-based hearing damage is due to damage to the tiny follicles of hair in the inner ear. These mice regenerate hair as well as skin.. time for some Mötley Crüe based experimentation?

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      time for some MÃtley Crüe based experimentation?

      No thank you. I'm still getting flashbacks from all the Pink Floyd-based experimentation I did back in the '70s.

  • by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:43AM (#41485933)
    You know, when thinking about which animals defensive ability to choose, it always used to be sea cucumber, hands down.

    Now I'll be thinking about whether being able to regurgitate my own stomach really is better than being able to remove my own skin with impunity!



    One of my favorite regeneration stories is about the crown of thorns starfish [wikipedia.org]. To battle population booms (before this species was well understood) the sent divers out with machetes to kick ass. After a run they did a census, the creatures had become smaller but their population more than doubled!

    Just like the dancing brooms in Fantasia, only without an occult Mickey Mouse.
  • At last! Reptilians, your days are numbered!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It seems there is actually a lifeform that evolved to have loose body matter for the sake of survival, that could easily be regenerated.

    I always wondered if there was such a creature that evolved to deal directly with the fact that another animal wanted to eat it by providing it something to eat.
    Are any other creatures out there that show this ability?
    And I don't mean generic lizards repairing lost limbs, these creatures skins are very specifically weak for survival reasons. (at least, it seems that way, it

    • by tragedy (27079)

      I always wondered if there was such a creature that evolved to deal directly with the fact that another animal wanted to eat it by providing it something to eat.
      Are any other creatures out there that show this ability?

      It's called autotomy. Mostly it's lizards, salamanders, skinks and that sort of thing that do it. Geckos, for example, can pop off their tails to distract predators. The tail writhes around and the predator eats it instead of the whole gecko.

  • by Type44Q (1233630)

    grow complete suites of hair follicles

    Eyes fuzzy from sleep, I could've sworn that read "complete suites of hairy testicles..."

  • So we might really grow Wub fur in the future! (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_by_Its_Cover [wikipedia.org])
  • This phenomenon has already been observed and even filmed [youtube.com] for one creature, to the extent that the whole *body* was "regenerated".

    I'm not sure whether or not this one is a "mammal" as we know it, though?
  • Being a lizard man didn't appeal to me very much. But getting to be Splinter will totally ROCK!

  • ...because its only a matter of time before they try to replace this little guy's skeleton with adamantium.
  • I want to get one as a pet and name it Wolverine!

  • My dream of becoming wolverine is one step closer

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