One Harvard researcher thinks he has found the gene that would enable us to regrow organs and regenerate limbs.
Various genes in our bodies turn on and off and different times over the course of our lives. It is here that scientists are looking for the magical code that would allow us to self-heal.
George Daley of Harvard Medical School was conducting an identification technique for his lab rats. The procedure included the action of clipping the ears or tips of the toes of the mice. Daley noticed that the ears and toes of these little mice would grow back in a matter of days.
The reason for this was because these particular mice had been genetically engineered so that a gene that helps them grow in the womb would continue to work after birth, effectively never turning off.
This gene is called Lin28a and by boosting metabolism, it can trick the body into thinking it is younger than it actually is.
Daley and his team have confirmed that Lin28a can indeed regrow parts of body parts. There are some limitations however.
These limitations were explained in the Scientific American:
“The power of Lin28a appeared to only extend so far. When mice were no longer babies—at five weeks—the scientists were not able to regenerate their limbs, even if the gene was stimulated. And mice with Lin28a activation were never able to repair damage to the heart, suggesting that the protein is not equally effective everywhere in the body.”
So we can conclude that Lin28a does not last forever and it does not work for all body parts. Despite these limitations, there is still hope for finding other genes. The scientists have learnt that bodily healing can be controlled by manipulating metabolic processes and so now they know where to look, they can focus their efforts on finding other genes that might be involoved.
Although full limb regeneration may still be way in the future, this discovery certainly brings us one step closer to being able to regenerate like Wolverine.