Renewal of damaged or lost body organs – called tissue regeneration – is one of the most dynamic areas of biomedical research today. Much research is focussed on stem cells but a lot can also be learned from studying organisms that already have the capacity for regeneration. Tadpoles, for example, have the ability to regrow their tail when it's lost or damaged. But a tail is complex: it contains muscle, spinal cord, blood vessels and skin, in a specific order so rebuilding it is no mean feat of cellular organisation. Here, to simplify research, scientists made the regeneration process visible over time by marking the nervous system [brain and spinal cord] with a green fluorescent tag. The approach was fruitful; they identified new factors that stimulate multiple biochemical pathways, which in turn lead to new tissue growth. Eventually, these investigations could lead to novel therapies to heal human disfigurements.
Written by Julie Webb
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