Scientists Are a Step Closer to Growing Human Limbs

Lizard genes could help humans regrow their own limbs.
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Lizard genes could help humans regrow their own limbs.
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Scientists from Arizona State University have been conducting research on growing limbs and have gotten closer to doing so in humans. They have discovered the exact gene that lizards use to regrow their limbs. 

Mic notes that the genetic makeup of lizards is similar to that of humans in the sense that specific genetic material controls specific bodily functions. So, these genes essentially have an on/off switch that is triggered by certain functions in the body. It takes about 300 genes for lizards to regenerate their limbs. Researchers suggest there are similar areas of human DNA that could allow scientists to repair damaged spinal cords and even replace arms and legs. 

When a lizard loses a rear appendage, soft tissue begins to seal the lesion and new blood vessels will form along the wound. In about two weeks, a new tail will begin to form using nerve tissue from the spinal cord. As time goes on, new muscle and cartilage will form and, in about two months, will separate into tail bones. 

Researchers studied green anoles in their study. They identified 326 lizard genes and found that 302 are similar to mammals. The scientists believe their findings can help to eventually regrow human tissue, allowing people to regrow entire limbs. This development could also lead to the regrowth of other tissues, such as cartilage and spinal cord, which would help restore full function to those who have been debilitated by spinal cord injuries. 

Even if human limb regrowth proves to be impossible, this research could lead to new methods of healing wounds much faster and more effectively. 

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