Clues from jellyfish for coaxing tissue regeneration
Watching injured moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) off the coast of Long Beach, California researchers noticed something strange. While most rearranged their limbs as they healed – searching for the symmetry they need to move and feed – a few showed early signs of growing replacement arms. The team spent three years testing different chemicals aiming to coax this regeneration in the lab. They found a combination of nutrients and insulin help amputated A. aurita to shape new arms (bottom right here). The new limbs ‘pulse’ in time with the existing arms, hinting at a rebuilt neuromuscular network. Researchers believe that a specific energy boost during healing may help some organisms 'switch on' regeneration – similar chemical supplements encouraged partial regeneration in (some) injured fruit flies and mice. Perhaps there is a specific combination of genes and chemicals – of nature and nurture – that may one day help humans to heal in new ways.
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