Lizard tails may help humans get new limbs
Posted on Aug 21 2014 | IANS
New York, Aug 21 : Lizard tails have fascinated humans from ancient times, falling off and growing back just like new. Now, scientists have solved the mystery of how lizards can regenerate their tails.
They discovered the genetic "recipe" for lizard tail regeneration, which may come down to using genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.
By following the genetic recipe for regeneration that is found in lizards, and then harnessing those same genes in human cells, it may be possible to regrow new cartilage, muscle or even spinal cord in the future.
"Lizards basically share the same toolbox of genes as humans. They are the most closely-related animals to humans that can regenerate entire appendages," said Kenro Kusumi from Arizona State University.
Researchers discovered that lizards turn on at least 326 genes in specific regions of the regenerating tail, including genes involved in embryonic development, response to hormonal signals and wound healing.
"Using next-generation technologies to sequence all the genes expressed during regeneration, we have unlocked the mystery of what genes are needed to regrow the lizard tail," explained Kusumi .
The findings may also lead to discoveries of new therapeutic approaches to spinal cord injuries, repairing birth defects, and treating diseases such as arthritis, said the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.