June 21, 2011

Chemical Cocktail May Aid Limb Regeneration

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Two researchers are reporting that a simple chemical cocktail can coax mouse muscle fibers to become the kinds of cells found in the first stages of a regenerating limb. Those transformations were similar to the initial processes that occur in the tissue of newts and salamanders which have started to regrow severed limbs.

Darren R. Williams, PhD, and Da-Woon Jung, Small Molecule Regulators and Biosystems Laboratory, School of Life Sciences, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea, say their “relatively simple, gentle, and reversible” methods for creating the early stages of limb regeneration in mouse cells “have implications for both regenerative medicine and stem cell biology,” according to a World Science article.

Their study, billed as the first demonstration that mammal muscle can be turned into the biological raw material for a new limb, was published in the journal, ACS Chemical Biology. In the future, the researchers suggest the chemicals they use could speed wound healing by providing new cells at the injured site before the wound closes or becomes infected. Their methods could also shed light on new ways to switch adult cells into the all-purpose, “pluripotent,” stem cells with the potential for growing into any type of tissue in the body.

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