Is scarless healing and body part regeneration a possibility for humans? A study published in Nature this month headed by developmental biologist, Ashley Siefert from University of Florida in Gainesville has scientists pondering that question. Apparently there are two species of African spiny mouse have the ability to do what no other mammal has been known to duplicate – entirely regenerating their own damaged tissue.
The mice have skin that is brittle and easily torn, which must be a defense mechanism to help them escape predators. Most animals, humans included, grow scar tissue when their skin is damaged or injured, much to the disappointment of plastic surgeons and their patients. The African spiny mice were shown to not only regrow their own skin, but also sweat glands, fur and cartilage. This is the first time that trait has been found in mammals, although it is not uncommon in insects, reptiles and amphibians.
The researchers are now looking for clues in terms of molecular mechanisms and genetics circuits that might help lead to the regeneration process. Regenerative medicine has already made great advances in the past few years with stem-cell-seeded organs grown in the laboratory. It’s going to be exciting to see how learning more about how these processes are triggered can benefit wound healing, help plastic surgery patients heal without scars, and people to live longer, healthier lives.
If you are interested in learning more about plastic surgery and how to minimize scars following surgery, please contact Dr. Steven L. Ringler for a personal, private consultation.