Is the discovery of regrowing human limbs right at your finger tips? Scientists have made an important insight to the reason of why when the finger is lost beyond the digit, regeneration does not occur but, when some of the nail bed is still there then regrowth is possible.
Scientists have posed the question, can stem cells regrow limbs? What kind of stem cells in the finger nail causes the finger tip to regenerate? An important discovery has been made with finger nail stem cells that offer clues to regeneration.
Can Stem Cells Regrow Limbs From Your Finger Tips?
Dr. Ito is an Associate Professor at the Department of Ronald O. Perelman, and Professor for the Department of Dermatology for Cell Biology.
Her team have focused on nail stem cells that are populated at the base of the nail. The purpose of these cells is to drive the constant growth of nails. However, Ito’s team observed that they are also implicated in more sophisticated processes of regenerating a finger tip.
Scientists began researching the role played of a signaling pathway called ‘Wnt‘ pronounced ‘wints’ on the growth of the nails. The reason they started studying this pathway was because it is used in limb formation in embryonic development in mammals and limb regeneration in amphibians.
It was discovered that this Wnt pathway was active in the mouse nail stem cells and is necessary for nail production. However, when they blocked the pathway signaling the mice’s nails stopped generating.
Regrowing Human Fingers – Regeneration Beyond The First Digit
The next step in the experiments, was to see what role the Wnt’s played in the regeneration of mice’s toe tips. Generally, the mouse toe tips regain their normal structure after they are clipped off, as long as some of the nail stem cells remain, including a layer of cells known as the nail epithelium.
The results showed that when the Wnt pathway was blocked, the toe tips and the nails failed to grow back. This proved that Wnt signaling plays an important part in regeneration.
The scientists decided to take the research to the next level, to see if finger regeneration could occur even if most of the Wnt pathway near the nail was removed, and beyond the finger tip. By using genetic engineering methods to force the remaining tissue to produce Wnts, they were able to regenerate bone, tissue and tendons in the regrowth of the mouse’s toe beyond the nail bed.
As Dr. Ito points out that amputations of this magnitude do not normally grow back. This means that the researchers were able to redirect the Wnt signaling pathways to other parts of the body to provoke regrowth of bone and tissue beyond the finger tip.
Possibilities In The Near Future
Could we soon be helping injured patients in regrowing human fingers and toes? It would make sense that regrowing toes and fingers would come before the more complex solution of regenerating a whole limb.
I don’t know the details, but apparently, a top scientist whom is an expert and specializes in this research was interviewed back in 2010 about human limb regeneration. She was one of the first scientists to grow an incubated human ear under the skin of a mouse’s back. It was proposed that she felt that regrowing fingers and toes would be possible by 2015 and full limb regeneration by 2025.
Anyway, the next step in Dr. Ito’s research with her team, is to look at the molecular constructs that control how the Wnt’s signaling interfaces with the stem cells of the nail that stimulates bone, tissue and nail growth.
The conclusion in this research showed that nail stem cells and the Wnt signaling pathway are essential for tissue regeneration. These insights offer innovative ideas of how scientists can creative new novel treatments to help millions of amputees around the world.
In a nutshell, it means that scientists could be on a break through for a cure for humans whom have lost limbs.