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Biotech Science

Regrowing Lost Body Parts Getting Closer All the Time 210

[TheBORG] writes "There are two stories on Yahoo! News about regrowing lost body parts. One is about regrowing lost fingers & limbs and the other one is about regrowing teeth. The story about regrowing lost fingers and limbs talks about the experimental use of powdered pig bladder to regrow fingers and eventually lost limbs for soldiers and others in need from information that Pentagon-funded scientists hopefully learn from studying the salamander. The story about regrowing teeth talks about how Japanese scientists used primitive cells and injected them into a framework of collagen. Once grown to a certain point, scientists implanted the growths into mice where the teeth developed normally."
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Regrowing Lost Body Parts Getting Closer All the Time

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  • by BobPaul ( 710574 ) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:52PM (#18073014) Journal

    Once grown to a certain point, scientists implanted the growths into mice where the teeth developed normally.
    On reading this I thought: "Why don't they just implant the teeth directly into people? Mice have tiny heads, and it would save a step!" D'OH!
  • Pig parts? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apocalypse111 ( 597674 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:53PM (#18073040) Journal
    I wonder how the Muslim and Jewish communities would react to this technology, as it involves materials taken from an animal that those religions traditionally view as "unclean". Would they reject it on those grounds?
    • yes, and they will be the first to perish!
    • by biocute ( 936687 )
      Maybe not. Muslim isn't supposed to be in contact with dogs, but I have seen Muslim dog handler for law enforcement and Search&Rescue purposes.
      • by rts008 ( 812749 )
        It seems to be which breed of dogs; Saluki's seem to be acceptable from what I've heard, then you have the Afghan it a sight hound thing?
    • Re:Pig parts? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:22PM (#18073592) Homepage Journal
      At least for Jews, that problem has been faced and solved. Pig heart valves are now used regularly, and that's just fine for Orthodox Jews. [] The problem is eating pigs, but any other use of pig parts is just fine.

      The Muslims, however, are still debating it [], as far as I can tell.
      • Well, from an evolutionary perspective, cultures that allow this medical technology will be "more fit" than those that do not. Additionally, those that reject this technology based on the anti-pig religious meme will likely spend more of their resources tending to the needs of disabled persons who would have been healed in cultures without this meme.

        There is a religious sect in the USA which has a similar memetic restriction against blood transfusion. Also, a rather large percentage of the US population has
        • by jfengel ( 409917 )
          But that time is passed.

          Possibly. I think so myself. But I wouldn't count religion out yet. It's been around for a long, long time.

          Religious people will tell you that secular societies have no heart or moral base, and that is itself maladaptive. If they do not take care of the weakest among them, for example, they'll miss out on important contributions by those who didn't happen to be fortunate or strong enough at some point.

          More importantly, religion gives people a way to work together. You can dismiss
        • by juhaz ( 110830 )
          Oh Europe, why did you have to export all your religious crazies to the Americas???

          Hey, that's not fair! We only exported a few of them, your own fault for letting the stuff multiply.
    • by Ziest ( 143204 )
      I can't speak for Islamic law but there already has been a Rabbinic ruling on just this. Insulin used to be made from pigs. Since insulin is need by those suffering from diabetes it was ruled that the laws of kosher do not apply here. The preservation of life supersedes the laws of Kosher.
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      I wonder how the Muslim and Jewish communities would react to this technology, as it involves materials taken from an animal that those religions traditionally view as "unclean".

      They're using mice cells to regenerate mice teeth. For humans, they'd use human cells. Ideally, your own.

    • They don't care, because god can spontaneously regenerate lost body parts at will... Oh that's right, he can't. Lame. []
  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:54PM (#18073042)
    Phew! Upon first reading that headline, I got an image of disembodied bits, growing ever larger, shuffling closer inexorably. I was about ready to look for a shotgun, or at least a shovel.
  • Can I have my foreskin back now, please?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:07PM (#18073340)
      That aint gonna make it any bigger.
      • Spievack talking about the regrowth of his finger said, "it's a little hard, as if calloused, and there's a slight scar on the end. The nail continues to grow at twice the speed of his other nails."

        John Bobitt, you reading this?
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by sqrt(2) ( 786011 )
      What I hate about people who complain about this is that they don't even know for sure what they're missing. You'd have to have experienced living both cut and uncut to know what was better, and men who get it done later in life don't count for various reasons. I'd suggest you don't spend so much time thinking about a rather insignificant fold of skin (previously) attached to your penis; the amount of fervor (on BOTH sides) amazes me.
      • by UnrefinedLayman ( 185512 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:27PM (#18074602)
        Hi, I'd like to cut off part of your dick. May I? What do you mean, no? How do you know it isn't better until you've lived both ways? I promise I will only cut off an insignificant part of your dick.

        We're talking about involuntary and medically unnecessary genital mutilation of infants. We're talking about cutting off part of your dick. That bears repeating: We're talking about taking a knife to your dick and cutting off part of your dick. The fact that you're not on your way to your nearest Rabbi right now to have part of your dick cut off entirely invalidates and undermines your position.

        Not only that, but you say You can't complain without having experienced it both ways. Oh, and if you are one of the few men that have lived both ways, your opinion doesn't matter. QED.

        What amazes me is people who say "What's the big deal?" If it's no big deal for it to happen (which requires time and effort and has no logical or medical basis) then it's certainly less of a deal not to do it at all (which requires neither time nor effort, and doing nothing does not require a reason), therefore the logical choice is not to do it. When someone is old enough to make a conscious decision to have their genitals mutilated they can feel free (can't you hear the stampede of men rushing to have it done?).

        Just remember, your lack of knowledge and understanding of the issue of male genital mutilation does not make your position the right one. You clearly demonstrate your dearth of insight (bifurcation, believing the issue is only about the possession or not of a foreskin, logical self-contradiction), so before you so quickly dismiss and insult people passionate about the topic perhaps you should try learning a thing or two first.
        • The pros and cons of circumcision can be debated all day long, but the statement of "medically unnecessary genital mutilation of infants." is just simply wrong. There is this thing called "skin adhesions" that happen between the shaft/foreskin and the head of the penis. In circumcised boys, this can be inconvenient. In extreme cases, it can lead to permanent minor disfigurement. In uncircumcised boys, the problems can be much worse, and are much more likely to take place. There are a whole group of med
        • Dorsal slit. (Score:3, Informative)

          by Upaut ( 670171 )
          The men in my family have had an odd genetic condition where our forskins do not grow fast enough, and cuts off circulation to the tip. So the men, since the procedure was developed, have had dorsal slits done. Except me. Because when I went to the table, the doctor got confused, not knowing the difference, and CUT IT ALL OFF (The foreskin, not the dick... ).

          I agree, I want that bit of my dick back.
          • Re:Dorsal slit. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MyIS ( 834233 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @03:35AM (#18078760) Homepage

            Not to repeat the same argument over and over, but you represent an odd 0.001% of population. Does that warrant cutting the rest of people's genitals?

            People seem to want to justify their existing condition... Feels eerily like Stockholm syndrome to me. Just like was pointed out before, it's probably not that big of a deal either way; however for all the respect we have for human rights, why is cutting a tiny baby penis justified by something that is "not a big deal"?

        • by Kozz ( 7764 )
          If one is writing "dick jokes",then by all means, call it a "dick". I know your nick is "UnrefinedLayman", but to be taken seriously when discussing an elective medical procedure, isn't it more useful to your argument to be brave enough to say "penis"?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Please read up on the subject before dismissing the foreskin as an "insignificant fold of skin". Ignorance is forgivable. But arrogantly displaying your ignorance as some kind of insight is not.

        You don't necessarily have to experience both cut and uncut do know which is better. Instead we can easily deduce which is better by the fact that the foreskin contains about 10,000 nerve endings. Nerve endings for sensation. (This is why the first push for circumcision in the US was to prevent excessive masturb
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by couchslug ( 175151 )
      "Sorry, your parents told me to keep the tip".

      Thanks, I'll be here all night.
  • Hmmmmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:55PM (#18073094)

    Regrowing Lost Body Parts Getting Closer All the Time
    Should I be concerned that this story was submitted by someone named [TheBORG]?
  • by cfulmer ( 3166 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:56PM (#18073098) Homepage Journal
    Since at least the civil war, if patients have portions of their extremities cut off, doctors have been sewing the severed tip back into good flesh, so the extremity can regrow. An acquaintance lost about 1/2 an inch off the tip of his finger. The surgeon cut a slit in the palm of his hand, stuck the finger in there and sewed it back up. A few months later, presto! new finger.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Not so strange, you say? I'm not sure which I'd prefer: a severed fingertip growing out of my palm, or some alien organism based on powdered pig bladder growing out my fingertip.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BobPaul ( 710574 ) *
      That's a little bit different. In your story they have the original body part that was severed and were just keeping it alive. In the article they are talking about if, say, a finger were completely lost. It was cut/blown off and couldn't be retrieved. Making a new finger requires bone, muscle, tendon, cartilage for joints, nerves, etc. Creating all of these from scratch is something we've wanted to be able to do for years, and it looks like we're making steady progress towards that end
    • Uh, can you explain exactly what you mean? Did he sew the severed tip onto the palm, or did he sew the end of the existing finger onto the palm? Did the severed tip turn into a new finger growing out of his palm, or did a new tip magically appear on the end of the severed finger...inside the palm...? Or were you joking? 'Cause none of that makes any sense to me.
      • by cfulmer ( 3166 )
        Sorry, I guess that wasn't all that clear.

        The doctor sewed the end of the finger back into the palm. Effectively, this meant that he went around flashing a gang sign wherever he went.
        • Ok...but...did he just leave the tip in the palm forever? Why would anyone want a fingertip sticking out of their palm? This still doesn't make sense to me.
          • by cfulmer ( 3166 )
            Argh. Push your middle finger into the fleshy part of your palm by your thumb-- that's how he looked. I have no idea what happened to the fingertip that came off -- it was probably just thrown away.
  • The regrowing teeth thing would be awesome. I am missing one of my molars due to a botched filling (and subsequent failed root canal after which the tooth had to be extracted). It sucks - my dental health is generally great except for one tooth missing. I've seen a local dental surgeon about getting an implant in (I'll be doing this as soon as I can get the funds set aside for the procedure - about $4k for the one tooth including the crown on the implant), but having a REAL tooth back there would be simp
    • I wonder if a dental implant would damage where the tooth goes, preventing you from regrowing one.
      • Not only that, the incidence of complications with dental implants is significant --- 7% in one article I found --- it's almost scary to read through dental implant product literature where each one notes a different way that it reduces the risk of complications.

        The OP is fortunate it's a molar, so doesn't justify a partial, which is a whole 'nother world of problems.

    • Darn skippy. I'd like to get me some of those replacement teeth, too. A youthful addiction to gummi bears has left me with less-than-optimal chompers, and I'd be most interested in getting new ones, even if it meant being on a liquid diet for six months or a year or whatever.
  • by GIL_Dude ( 850471 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:59PM (#18073152) Homepage
    Anyone? Darn - that was the first thing I thought of. [] I guess the price will be going up...
  • Come back to me when they have worked out how to grow a new liver.

    *Pours bourbon into coffee & gets on with another ISP support call*
  • It seems to me, that if the product was created correctly, this could give new meaning to the phrase tooth paste.

    Class clowns around the world are waiting in eager anticipation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:04PM (#18073268)
    Fun fact. Everything in the future is getting closer all the time.
    • You've obviously never tried to deliver software. Time to delivery approaches a constant greater than zero....
  • If these people read Herbert... they would know that regrowing limbs will turn you into a short gnome creature that everyone hates.
  • by hobo sapiens ( 893427 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:06PM (#18073314) Journal

    the experimental use of powdered pig bladder to regrow fingers and eventually lost limbs for soldiers and others in need from
    BEDEVERE: And that, my lord, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped.

    ARTHUR: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

    BEDEVERE: OF course, my Liege ...

  • Further research, as pointed by scientists, should include regrowing brains in politicians. There are doubts, however, whether this is at all possible, as some researchers say indicated subjects don't have any brain to start with.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kanweg ( 771128 )
      Sorry, twice the brain size makes them just twice as stupid. In that, they don't differ from regular people from, say, [state suppressed].

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:14PM (#18073476) Homepage
    Wake Forest University's got an Institute for Regenerative Medicine [] in their medical school. I have a friend (just a pre-med undergraduate) who might get to do some research there this summer and is really excited about the possibility. It's neat stuff.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:18PM (#18073526) Journal
    I am sure Mr John Wayne Bobbitt will welcome this news and appreciate it greatly. :-)
  • by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:19PM (#18073538)
    "I grew that one for you baby."
  • by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:33PM (#18073766) Homepage Journal
    I read that as "Regrowing, Lost Body Parts Getting Closer All the Time" which is frankly nightmarish. I need more sleep. It should have been "Regrowing Lost Body Parts is Getting Closer All the Time"
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:36PM (#18073830) Journal
    I wonder if this will be used in the long haul for sex change operations/transgender. May be easier and cheaper to biologically force the change.
  • I heard.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Dues ( 786223 )
    I heard if you cut off an extremity it will grow back even bigger.... ...Don't believe it.
  • this is all based on work shamefully stolen from Dr Curt Connors of Empire State U.
  • ..."The possibility of regenerating lost parts is growing."
  • 1) The teeth were regrown using cells harvested from tooth buds - in other words, cells that were already programmed to make teeth, in the stage corresponding to the structure they intended to implant.

    What's the improvement on just transplanting the tooth buds?
    - Can they make MORE teeth than the number of harvested buds? (That's good if true.)
    - Proving that they can grow teeth in an adult animal? (That's good, if true.)

    But it doesn't look like any magic yet.

    2) The finger tip in question wa
    • He said the doctors told him that finger tips generally grow back just fine unless they are cut so far back that none of the nail bed is left.

      Makes sense. If you pull out a hair, but the root remains, the hair grows back. If you use the electroshock hair removal or other such things (which fries the hair hair down to the root) it doesn't come back.

      Same with fingernails/toenails (and this one I have personal experience with). If you crush your toenail and there's some root left, it comes back. If - as I've
  • I hear they smell really good when you get a sunburn too.
  • ...when they start regrowing sexual organs. Think of all the people who have had their (ovaries|testicles) be (damaged|removed), then think of how many of those people would give anything for kids. Of course, the flip side is people would also be able to have ... enhancements... grown too.
  • by Digital Vomit ( 891734 ) on Monday February 19, 2007 @11:59PM (#18077332) Homepage Journal
    Oh yeah, we'll be able to regrow a lost limb soon, but it'll probably cost an arm and a leg.
  • by GoMMiX ( 748510 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @01:01AM (#18077820)
    One thing a lot of people overlook when considering this as a future option is that as they allow their teeth to rot it's not just their teeth rotting.

    Many people put off getting proper dental care until they've waited too late -- once infection starts setting in it doesn't just rot the tooth - it also rots the bone the tooth is rooted in.

    So if you've got issues with your teeth and you're thinking this may be a future option - make sure you properly care for your teeth now or you may not be able to take advantage of these future options so easily.

    Having a genetically engineered tooth surgically placed is one thing - it's a totally new story when your surgeon has to grind down the damaged bone in order to create a proper rooting surface (A common practice for people getting posts when they let their teeth go bad for a prolonged period).

    I have also read of people prone to sinus infections losing root surfaces.

    I've always had chalky teeth -- and for several years now I've been following the progress in this area. One of the first things I learned was how important it was to preserve the root surface. So don't put off proper care.
  • If a cell contains all information about how to build the adjacent cells, and there are available all required ingredients (?!) to build adjacent cells, then the cell can start building the adjacent cells and so on. Is it right?!
  • That sounds like it's up there with Eye of Newt. WTF? Man that Harry Potter series really changed the world more than I would have ever imagined? What next? Will a troll be running for president in 2008 on the Republican ticket? The way those guys smooth over the truth, a troll would win out over that liberal Jesus Christ any day.
  • and my threshing machine also.
  • Regrowing of lost teeth? Wow, I bet that's fantastic news to some of the sufferers of the horrific disease known as Meth Mouth [].

  • ... my right arm on them being able to regrow and fully reattach complete limbs any time soon.
  • Now all we need is for Michael Jackson [] to hear about this.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN