It's a miracle: mice regrow hearts

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by wdlove, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #1
    I thought that I would post something positive in the news.

    This could be revolutionary for medicine, if it can be duplicated in humans, Regeneration occurs naturally in lower forms of animals. The trick is to learn about the mechanism used.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,16417002%255E30417,00.html
     
  2. stonyc macrumors 65816

    stonyc

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan
    #2
    Interesting, though I'd actually have been much more excited had they identified the genes... though I guess they may share that data in their talk. Not exactly ground-breaking research in my opinion, because we already know that humans can regenerate to a much more limited degree... the liver is known to be able to regenerate (hence, liver transplants). But kind of exciting nonetheless if they should find the homologous genes in humans.

    Also have to be careful that should they engineer humans to be able to regenerate better, that they don't induce cancers in the organs they're attempting to regenerate, etc.
     
  3. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #3
    What's most curious about this is why less complex creatures have an enormous ability to regenerate but more complex ones don't. If it is a matter of a few genes, you would expect that random mutations would impart the self-regeneration trait onto us but evolution has chosen not to.

    I can only surmise that for complex creatures, self-regeneration is not only worthless, but is undesirable (since no complex creatures seem to have self-regeneration but many less complex creatures do). This, of course applies to complex creatures as a species anyways. I think I'd find it extremely valuable for myself.

    I don't know the answer but perhaps it has to do with the thinking aspect of complex creatures and how that affects mating. I'd be interested in hearing others hypothesize about this.

    However, it just says that other pressures have been greater than the pressure to (keep the ability to) regenerate. Or the costs of being able to regenerate are probably prohibitive.

    The competing pressures might include (for example) a pressure to be smart or strong enough not to lose body parts in the first place, or a pressure to develop coping strategies when a limb is lost. Or the pressure to give food and resources to offspring, over attempting immortality. Or the pressure to have more complex tissues (even if they are more difficult to regenerate), although the article sheds a shadow of doubt on this last one. If these competing pressures are great enough, and more importantly, the pressure to keep the regeneration trait is low enough, the trait will simply drift away (randomly mutate) into nonfunctional genetic code. It doesn't mean it is completely undesirable.

    More "complex" animals like humans don't lose a lot of body parts on a day to day basis. And those who do, have their (evolutionary) fitness determined by their ability to cope with the loss, rather than by their ability to regain those parts.
     
  4. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #4
    these mice are pretty amazing, although the heber-katz and colleagues had already described their regeneration phenotipe before (but not to the extent suggested by the article). It will be interesting to know if there is some breakthrough advance in their research or if it is just a case of research taking a while to get to mainstream.

    An interesting (anedoctal) aspect of the story is how the mice were identified: in labs, mice are commonly identified by punching holes in their ear (sounds cruel, I know, but its quite painless. mice apparently don't mind). These holes quickly heal around their margins and then become permanent. However, these MRL (or 'healer') little buggers healed the wound completely and in a scarless fashion. Whereas some were just annoyed by their lack of cooperation in being identified, other scientist got interesteed and started studying the phenomenon.

    edit: upon further investigation: these are an "enhanced" version of the original mice, and the difference is that they can regenerate much more complex wounds (including organs) than the founder strains.

    this could indeed revolutionize medicine (and transform the Highlander into a reality show ;))
     

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