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Regeneration Shift

Studies on limb and brain cell regeneration in axolotls inform the field of regenerative medicine

02 October 2022

Regeneration Shift

Mainly found in an ancient lake in Mexico, axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) have the ability to regenerate after injury. Research groups investigate this from different angles – here one team studies regenerating after amputation. They find that growth of cells and tissues accelerates in the emerging 'tiny limb' (top row), until it reaches a similar size to the slower-growing un-amputated limb (bottom). The growth rate and final size are related to the number of nerves serving the growing tissue. Elsewhere, scientists are studying regenerating axolotl brains. Using spatial transcriptomics they find injury prompts a 'reset' in some stem cells, back to a state similar to those found during development. Following a similar developmental pattern, the cells becoming neurons that connect the regrown tissue to nearby brain areas. Whether probing tissues or shifting focus to genes, future axolotl studies may reveal common ground with our ancient ancestor, guiding new approaches in regenerative medicine.

Written by John Ankers

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