Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech

For the First Time, Organ Regenerated Inside a Living Animal 94

Posted by timothy
from the casio-not-wurlitzer dept.
ananyo (2519492) writes "Scientists at Edinburgh University have successfully persuaded an organ to regenerate inside an animal. As they report in the journal Development, they have treated, in mice, an organ called the thymus, which is a part of the immune system that runs down in old age. Instead of adding stem cells they have stimulated their animals' thymuses to make more of a protein called FOXN1. This is a transcription factor (a molecular switch that activates genes). The scientists knew from earlier experiments that FOXN1 is important for the embryonic development of the thymus, and speculated that it might also rejuvenate the organ in older animals. They bred a special strain of mice whose FOXN1 production could be stimulated specifically in the thymus by tamoxifen, a drug more familiar as a treatment for breast cancer. In one-year-olds, stimulating FOXN1 production in the thymus caused it to become 2.7 times bigger within a month. In two-year-olds the increase was 2.6 times. Moreover, when the researchers studied the enlarged thymuses microscopically, and compared them with those from untreated control animals of the same ages, they found that the organs' internal structures had reverted to their youthful nature."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

For the First Time, Organ Regenerated Inside a Living Animal

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Are the organs really that young or is it just new growth of old tissue?

    • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @12:43PM (#46695325)

      Presumably the telomeres continue to diminish as normal; however, unless I'm much mistaken organisms rarely survive long enough for their cells DNA to run out of telemorase. Instead the problem is a far more complicated and poorly understood - some of aging happens at the cellular level, but far more happens at a system level, and we don't really understand the interaction. It sounds like they may have found a way to rejuvenate an organ at the system level, presumably at a some increase in aging at the cellular level (a 3x increase in size could well be responsible for less than 1.6 generations of cellular aging), but if we could extend lifespans such that it was generally cellular aging that killed us rather than systemic aging, that would be a pretty impressive leap forward. As a side benefit greater systemic health probably promotes greater cellular health, so we might end up with cells more like that spry centenarian happily working his farm rather than the decrepit 70yo who's doing good to wipe his own ass.

      • by lgw (121541)

        Plus, for greatly extended life we have to solve both problems: system decline and telemorase countdown. Criticizing this breakthrough because it only addresses one of the major problems would be quite silly. Congrats to the researchers!

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          Honestly, I rather hope we don't master greatly increasing lifespans for the time being - we've got way too many existing social and environmental issues to deal with that would be greatly complicated by drastically increasing the lifespan of the average person, and I don't see anything good coming of granting "immortality" only to the elite.

          On the other hand if we can keep the adult population in their healthy apparent 30s or so until cellular death starts kicking in causing massive system failure, well th

          • by tlambert (566799)

            Honestly, I rather hope we don't master greatly increasing lifespans for the time being - we've got way too many existing social and environmental issues to deal with that would be greatly complicated by drastically increasing the lifespan of the average person, and I don't see anything good coming of granting "immortality" only to the elite.

            If only we had a demographic with a lot of money and a vastly increased lifespan who has to live with their decisions of today and the consequences they have 400 to 500 years down the road. Then there would be a personal stake in solving things like existing social and environmental issues, rather than leaving them for the next generation to deal with because you find them personably survivable, at least for your limited lifespan.

            • by Immerman (2627577)

              Except the elite will face an entirely different set of challenges from environmental and social problems than the rest of us - short of large-scale biological or nuclear warfare they, their families, and their chosen associates will be well insulated from the repercussions of their actions, and will in fact be in a position to consolidate power to an extent not seen in centuries. And I imagine they're probably quite capable of weathering catastrophic wars as well, though it may be a bit less comfortable.

              • by tlambert (566799)

                Except the elite will face an entirely different set of challenges from environmental and social problems than the rest of us - short of large-scale biological or nuclear warfare they, their families, and their chosen associates will be well insulated from the repercussions of their actions, and will in fact be in a position to consolidate power to an extent not seen in centuries. And I imagine they're probably quite capable of weathering catastrophic wars as well, though it may be a bit less comfortable.

                Well, given that they have to breathe the same air as you, and all the really desirable, expensive property is in coastal regions like The Hamptons, San Francisco, Rhode Island, Manhattan, etc., and therefore prone to flooding due to sea levels rising, you would at least not have to worry about either of those things.

                Unless they are building a secret space station under the direction of Jodie Foster, and have a foolproof plan to keep Matt Damon out?

                • by Immerman (2627577)

                  Yes, toxic air is a concern, at least if it's toxic enough that even their private island resorts are suffering. Property value loss to sea level rising? Not so much I think. We're talking about a group with an average income (after economic maneuvering) of 27 million dollars a year. The poorest is making 9 million per year. And that's just the money that goes into their personal wallets - their real wealth accumulation is is mostly in the form of capital gains and wielding what is for most practical p

          • by geekoid (135745)

            I do. BTW, we could put everyone on the planet in there own small house on a 1/4 acre in Texas.
            Think about that.
            What that highlights is most of the problems are about transportation and distribution. Since most people can't think beyond there own lives, having people live 400 years might give reason to work on the logistics

            Hell, just a massive global education policy for women would reduce the birth number dramatically.

            ", and I don't see anything good coming of granting "immortality" only to the elite."
            why

            • by Immerman (2627577)

              Check your math, you dropped a decimal place: 268,820 sq mi / 7,000,000,000 people = 0.000 038 sq mi / person, which is only 1/40 of an acre per person, or 1070 square feet.

              But the problem isn't elbow room, it's that our best estimates are that we're already consuming roughly 40% more natural resources than the planet can sustainably provide. That is to say that we're "spending the capital", and next year the biosphere will be unable to provide as many resources as it did this year. And over the next deca

          • by delt0r (999393)

            Honestly, I rather hope we don't master greatly increasing lifespans for the time being

            I intend to live forever. Or die trying.

  • to humans.

    • by Ken_g6 (775014)

      to humans.

      ...and you get Rodents of Unusual Size?

  • by bravehamster (44836) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @11:32AM (#46694583) Homepage Journal

    Those hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional mice sure are good at getting humans to do all the work to cure mice of all disease and aging.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's organ hypertrophy for you, nor organ regeneration. With age, the thymus undergoes atrophy but it's still there. Whatever "youthful nature" means for a cell studied under the microscope.

    • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @11:57AM (#46694873)

      Don't care. If the organ is restored to youthful function, as at least the linked summary indicates, then this is a big deal.

      Specifically, this appears to be very different from (say) cardiac hypertrophy, where the heart grows larger but works less efficiently. In this work, the "rejuvenated" thymus not only gets bigger, it produces more T cells -- in other words, it works more like a youthful organ.

  • I have long imagined aging was a process much like disease, to be treated and fought regularly with a vengeance.

    Cue the "What will we do with all the people?" arguments.

    • by Xicor (2738029)
      well, it was recently decided to start treating aging as a disease instead of a natural occurrence. For some reason, (not pointing fingers at religious folk), this idea has been put off for far too long.
      • Well, it's pretty clearly both. Of course, being eaten by wolves is also a natural occurrence, but nobody seems to object to those who choose wolf-avoidance as a lifestyle.

        • by non0score (890022)
          Annnnnd we have people who domesticated them to make man's (and woman's!) best friends. I think it's pretty obvious who's right there. =D
          In all seriousness, how is aging any different from a disease? That'd be akin to calling genetic diseases that manifest later in life a "natural occurrence".
          • by Immerman (2627577)

            Well, if we could eliminate aging without significantly extending lifespan you'd have a point. But the fact is aging and limited lifespans are strictly optional biological processes - our single-celled ancestors didn't experience them, nor do many of our more modern and sophisticated cousins in the plant and animal kingdom. Aging and mortality are things our species (and many others) evolved, presumably for a reason. "Curing" it without understanding that reason and arranging for alternate considerations

            • by geekoid (135745)

              Evolved, or didn't need to evolve a process to keep use around that much past procreation?

              Evolution doesn't have a plan.

              • by Immerman (2627577)

                What do you mean past procreation? Only humans and orcas are know to experience menopause, all other species remain fertile throughout their lives.

                At some point in the distant past some mutation in one of our ancestors introduced aging and mortality. And for some reason the descendents who inherited that mutation were able to out-compete their immortal cousins, until eventually the entire species was mortal. Why? Evolution may not have a plan, but it does tend to arrive at intelligent solutions. Maybe

          • That'd be akin to calling genetic diseases that manifest later in life a "natural occurrence".

            Genetic diseases later in life (i.e. after breeding age) *are* a natural occurrence. Natural isn't a synonym for either "inevitable" or "desirable". Appeal to Nature is actually considered a logical fallacy; saying "Death is natural" is true, but continuing by saying "therefore it is inherently good" is fallacious.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think for a lot of people the idea of an extended life is a pretty terrifying prospect even without religion. Even if you were kept in relatively good health you'd have to produce endlessly to stay alive. As a person gets older they also carry more emotional baggage that can make death seem like a normal solution to what life becomes in old age.

        Who knows. But extended life is going to present its own problems and I'm guessing most aren't anticipated at this point. I'm sure there are those who'd do

        • by Sarius64 (880298)
          As long as I wasn't crippled life would be great! I've suffered massive emotional wreckage through war, family deaths, financial failure and success, and even educational trials. Let me research communications sequencing over 100 years; I'll be just fine. Particularly when I know the damn biological pistol isn't pointed at my head.
        • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:17PM (#46695765)

          And so perhaps we should pay more attention to the old Conservative viewpoint that both unrestrained capitalism and socialism are detrimental to the human soul, and that a society should strive to enable all it's citizens to acquire sufficient real estate and other capital to support their family without having to subject themselves to servitude to others or depend on government largess.

          • by plover (150551)

            a society should strive to enable all it's citizens to acquire sufficient real estate

            That's a concept that once went by the name "lebensraum". The "good old days" generally failed to deliver that which most of us would consider "good", except from the point of view of the select beneficiaries.

            When we can easily get off this rock and start acquiring real estate elsewhere in the galaxy, it'll be a great solution. Until then, it's only a recipe for war.

            • by Immerman (2627577)

              The US is 3.8 million square miles, population 314 million. That's about 8 acres per person. Granted not all of it is productive land, but you also don't need anywhere near 8 acres to support one person. Or perhaps you meant class warfare? The elites have been waging that war throughout recorded history, yet somehow it's only derided as a bad thing when the masses fight back.

    • It's a good question. The best solution I can come up with (conspicuously short on details) is nuke powered (in sub-basement) pre-fabricated highrises. Social interaction and fulfillment (since jobs availability for all shouldn't be assumed) will be computer game/mmo based for education and coordination of other 'meat space' social activities.

      This obviously assumes a lot of post scarcity tropes. Indoor hydroponic farming, on-site fabrication, carbon based electronics, etc
      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Yeah, I'm putting my money on "die of starvation or war" until such time as as everyone on earth is convinced to stop reproducing. Hope you're in it for the long haul. Or rather I hope you're *not* - I've got me and mine to look out for, and you're consuming valuable resources.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Well then. maybe you shouldn't have any kids?
          Since war and starvation a less of an issue global every year.

          " Hope you're in it for the long haul. Or rather I hope you're *not* - I've got me and mine to look out for, and you're consuming valuable resource"
          him, hope for someones death, or hope to find a solution... and you chose to hope for someone s death.
          Clearly you are short sighted and weak.

          • by Immerman (2627577)

            >Since war and starvation a less of an issue global every year.

            Really? Perhaps you haven't noticed that we're on the cusp of an environmental shift that will likely devastate agricultural yields for decades at least? And when people get hungry they very rarely quietly starve to death - they steal their neighbors food and/or farmland instead. On a national level that's known as war.

            I'd love to hope for less unpleasant solution, but I don't see any other possibilities that aren't far more devastating to

          • Odd... to find you so critical, responding to a post with the darkest interpretation possible.

            Settle down and enjoy the site. You are clever and a good poster... it wouldn't kill you to be a little more civil, at least every now and then to mix it up.

    • I would expect that we will also overcome the desire to procreate, once the future of the species is assured. As I read on /. some time ago, Humans really like to have sex, but aren't really keen on raising children, beyond what we feel is necessary to preserve the race. It is seen in every population study. As medicine advances, as our quality of life increases, birth rate drops.

      When we start living forever, we won't have this great need to create offspring anymore. We'll still behave like rabbits, but we

    • You can deal with this problem proactively, by using condoms.
  • they have stimulated their animals' thymuses

    Sickos!

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @12:06PM (#46694965)
    FOXN1 protien inreases organ size, return youthful vigor! No prescrpton needed! CLIKC HER NOW!!

    .
  • At a certain point, after much testing and fussing, and deciding that such treatments are safe for humans we will be confronted with a simple fact. We can not afford the medical technology that we already have. How can we get these breakthrough treatments for the people that need them? Almost all seniors would need quite a few items repaired. Check out the price of testosterone gels for senior males. That stuff runs $1,400 per month and they would be on it for years, Imagine the price of getting
    • Well, we need something to redistribute the wealth from the old to the young, since the flow has been going in quite the opposite direction the last 35 years or so.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "We can not afford the medical technology that we already have"
      false.
      " That stuff runs $1,400 per month and they would be on it for years, Imagine the price of getting some good stem cells customized for your heart or brain or kidneys. "
      these are not comparable.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Actually regenerative medicine is one of the few things we can afford. Current end-of-life medicine is phenomenally expensive, but initial signs are that it will be *far* cheaper to stimulate an organ to regenerate when it begins to weaken than waiting to replace or supplement it when it begins to fail. Certainly for the first twenty years or so it will be as ridiculously expensive, but after all there's probably nothing terribly expensive about producing that testosterone gel - once the patents expire I

  • Can you imagine the tragedy if the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Koch Brothers could remain useful and continue accumulating wealth?

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      I just threw up in my mouth. Think of Donald Trump too as well as Whoopi Goldberg... OMG Barbara Streisand too?!?

      Nooooooooo.

    • by non0score (890022)
      On the other hand, if we're all going to die just like them, then why does it matter? I'd rather have a fighting chance than to die.
  • i want to see the day where the doctor give me a pill and i leave the hospital with a new kidney :)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] star trek iv : the voyage home

  • In one-year-olds, stimulating FOXN1 production in the thymus caused it to become 2.7 times bigger within a month. In two-year-olds the increase was 2.6 times.

    I'm not sure what's the point of having larger organs than normal.

    (Remembers Viagra) Oh, riiiiight.

  • "For the First Time, Organ Regenerated Inside a Living Animal"

    So, all the other times they were regenerated inside dead animals?

  • This isn't the first time an organ has been regenerated inside an animal.
    It's been documented for several years that after a partial liver removal, humans can regenerate livers.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... [nih.gov]

  • Let me see if I understand the process they've found:

    1. Genetically engineer a mouse to respond to a drug
    2. Administer the drug
    3. ???
    4. Profit!^W Publish how you have discovered a cure for aging. (Non-GMO humans need not apply. Side effects may include premature death.)

  • "Doctor gave me a pill, and I grew a new kidney!"
  • A human's first line of defense is its skin.
  • Call me when an organ regenerates inside of a dead animal.

Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue. - Seneca

Working...