The technology has greatest achievements in the recent times, including prosthetic limbs. Prosthetic limbs are something external attached to the human body. The researchers now are working to check if it is possible to regenerate the damaged limbs, organs and other parts of the body, just as the way it works in animals. Regeneration is being focused now, rather than a replacement.
It is identified that few animals are actually capable of regenerating damaged parts of the body. The researchers are studying salamanders, lizards, and flatworms, focusing on the mechanisms these animals use to regenerate lost body parts, in the hope that one-day humans could too.
The process through which such animals are able to regenerate is well documented. When there is a wound, the outermost layer of skin covers up this wound. A bump then appears, called the wound epidermis. It sends instructions to cells near and beneath it. After which, mature cells become immature ones called blastema. And then Nerve cells start to regenerate.
The blastema is, therefore, the key to regeneration. Primarily because it is these cells that start dividing and differentiating into the cells of the lost limb. There is also a presence of a certain form of memory that sends a stimulus which asks the process to stop. Thereby preventing the extra division of the cells.
However, there are numerous obstacles in the way to study such animals and make regeneration possible in humans. Salamanders, lizards, and worms aren’t exactly the best lab animals, not very comfortable in a lab environment.
Moreover studying salamander genes is a tedious task since their genomes are much more complex. They carry ten times the amount of DNA as ours, making gene sequencing tricky. The discovery of gene editing where the gene was edited from its gene sequence is recent.
The process of regeneration in animals is also slow. A 4 mm limb can take around 400 days to grow. This leads to the question of how long it takes for a human hand or limb to grow.
Studies, therefore, should focus on stem cells to arrive at a faster process of regenerating damaged part of the body.