Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Regenerating Body Parts

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Regenerating Body Parts

Article excerpt

The summer 2012 action film, "The Amazing Spider-Man," features a villain called the Lizard, a former surgeon who, after losing an arm, experimented with cell generation and reptilian DNA until he could grow back his missing limb. Someday such regeneration may be possible. An article in the journal Physiology looks at the possibilities of cellular regeneration in general and the principles by which hair and feathers regenerate themselves in particular. The authors apply current knowledge about regenerative biology to the emerging field of regenerative medicine.

Animals regularly regenerate hair and feathers by natural processes. The article reviews previous research on this normal regeneration of hair and feathers throughout the lifespan of various birds and mammals. The researchers include what is currently known about the mechanism behind this regrowth as well as what gaps still exist in the knowledge base and remain ripe for future research.

In their article, the authors, including Cheng-Ming Chuong of the University of Southern California, also focus on how extrafollicular environments can regulate hair and feather stem cell activities and how different configurations of stem cells can shape organ forms in different body regions to fulfill changing physiological needs.

The authors examine dozens of papers on normal "physiological regeneration"--the regrowth that happens over the course of an animal's life and not in response to an injury. …

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