Regenerative Medicine: Can We Regrow our Organs and Limbs?

By: S. Michael Windsor

Have you ever wondered how certain creatures such as newts and salamanders have the ability to regrow their limbs after becoming detached? Many scientists have been researching this phenomenon in hopes to apply this regeneration process to human beings. But have they found anything? The answer is yes. But, is regeneration such as this actually possible? Scientists have just discovered why the regeneration occurs in creatures such as newts and now look towards the future to see if there is any way we could use these new findings in order to regenerate our own limbs.

What scientists have recently found in newts is a certain protein which causes them to regrow the detached limb. Newts are members of the Salamandridae family and can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia. They have the ability to regenerate limbs, eyes, spinal cords, hearts, intestines, and upper and lower jaws. All of this regeneration going on in these little creatures has remained a mystery for some time. But all of the recent research has paid off as the protein discovered, called nAG, has been found to come from nerve and skin cells. This protein is what creates a mass of undifferentiated cells capable of growth and regeneration called blastema. The blastema are the cells which actually regrow the severed body parts in these animals. Blastemata is normally found in an organism's early development stages such as embryonic states. So it figures that creatures such as salamanders would still have these cells as opposed to a human or even a frog as salamanders are still considered as much more 'primitive' creatures as opposed to more developed species.

So what does all this mean to us if these cells are only found in 'primitive' creatures? This question is what researchers are just now asking each other. Is it possible that human beings can actually utilize these cells in order to regrow a heart or a severed fingertip? All of this runs into the issue of regenerative medicine and stem cell research where there have been many heated arguments on the topics of such regeneration processes recently. Will such findings, if put to use in human beings, place a burden on many peoples morals and beliefs? Or will these new findings help boost our human existence in a positive manner? These questions will inevitably arise as scientists work around the clock to gain even more in-depth insight on the understanding of the molecular communication processes and more in order to find out what exactly is happening that is causing the regeneration so that they may possibly reproduce these systems.

Of course, no one really knows how far or how long this research will go to gain a clear understanding of this segment in regenerative medicine. But, if creatures such as newts are able to turn their own cells into undifferentiated stem cells and then back into mature tissue again, then what do you think humans will be like if we were able to grasp and apply this amazing ability? We are a long, long way from realizing any of this blastema activity in any human context, but the findings are there. So, is this is just another small step into the future of human regenerative medicine and advancement of the human species? Or is it merely a dead-ended finding that can only be utilized in creatures such as the newt and salamander? Only time will tell and scientists will always be searching for answers. For more information on Regenerative Medicine and Cell Regrowth, please visit

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