Scientists have found a key protein that helps newts regrow severed limbs and which may guide future research into human regenerative medicine.
Biologists have long been intrigued by the ability of newts and salamanders to renew damaged body parts. But how they do it has been unclear.
Now new research by a British team published on Thursday shows that a protein called nAG, secreted by nerve and skin cells, plays a central role in producing a clump of immature cells, known as a blastema, which regrows the missing part. The importance of nAG was demonstrated by the fact that even when a nerve was severed below the stump tip, which would normally prevent regrowth, the scientists were able to coax regeneration by artificially making cells produce the protein.
Anoop Kumar and colleagues from University College London (UCL), writing in the journal Science, said the finding "may hold promise for future efforts to promote limb regeneration in mammals."