Limb regeneration. Science fiction or reality?

6 04 2008

So you amputate your hand or your arm in an accident. You are shattered and without even one limb there is a significantly reduced quality of life. You need to replace said hand or arm with a prosthetic in order to gain function and improve the general outlook. It is not the same but at least it’s not a pirate hook. But that might soon change! Imagine in 20-30 years time, there might be an ability to be able to regrow certain body parts? It will do what the dialysis machine did for those with kidney failure! (Uh OK maybe not such a good analogy in a few different levels).

Until quite recently (and even now so) all this is in the realm of science fiction. But according to this article from the ‘Scientific American’ we might not be so far away. The article goes on to describe the process and reasoning of why this process might be a reality and how it can eventuate into healing humanity in general. Salamanders were the key to this article and their properties of being able to regrow their limbs multiple times after each amputation is giving hope for scientists to somehow give this ability to humans.


Aaaaw aren’t you a pretty little yellow spotted Salamander. Owww yesh u R. Yesh u R.

So what can we make out of this? Obviously we need to rework society and give Salamanders the respect they deserve! I mean come on, how many animals can regenerate limbs!! This is so cool. I used to think when I was little that stem cells (when I first heard about them) would be the key to giving people back the ability to regrow limbs and solve a large majority of those problems. But screw stem cells… Those stem cells originate from aborted fetuses so it would be inhumane to go near those for research. Let’s go do some experimenting on animals such as said Salamander or even our fishy friend shown below:


You a star!! (For those that can’t tell, this is a pic of a starfish regrowing it’s…um Limbs? Tentacles? Penis? Ouch… Wait for that joke to work you have to assume starfish have two penises and they are as long as their legs/tentacles and… Umm I think I shall shut up now. 

You know, that lame joke I made above got me thinking. This technically means if we were to crack this and work out a way to regenerate as our new Salamander overlords, will that lead to um… “Extended limbs”… Haha my immaturity has kicked in. Oh well, all in the name of science. 

Jokes aside though there are some interesting times ahead! I for one am amazed and grateful at all this research and efforts that are leading to such discoveries and better understandings. It’s all a lead into the right direction in my honest opinion.

But well like 99% (or was it 98%…no wait 76%)  of breakthroughs and major discoveries unveiled don’t expect an “arm regrowth cream” anytime in your local supermarket…

Mmmmm mmm from the old and scaly to the new and creamy. Sign me up!