In nature, there are a good number of species recorded by scientists that have powerful regeneration abilities. I previously wrote about the Zebrafish regeneration, and of course, we have talked in detail about the Axolotl which can regrow its limbs, spinal cord, heart and even parts of the brain. Here we explore if it is possible for humans to regenerate their limbs with the help of the Garfish.
Many creatures in the wild can only partially regenerate for non-life threatening injuries but others, as mentioned in previous articles, the Axolotl can regenerate with total perfection as if the injury has never happened. We are talking here about serious injuries such as a lost limb with it is regrown perfectly even if this injury happens multiple times.
When it comes to mammals (including humans) apart from some honorable exceptions, there is very limited regeneration. In our case we usually scar or Fibrosis and no real regeneration with the exception of the liver.
Children do have a greater ability of regeneration and an infant that loses its fingertip to the nail bed can potentially regrow it back even without medical intervention.
As mentioned above in the past, we have discussed if humans can regenerate their limbs with the aid of the Zebrafish which have been shown to have a really good model for research into regeneration due to closer proximity to humans.
However, new research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists from Michigan State University in America have revealed that the Garfish can provide genetic secrets from ancient evolutionary origins.
This could well help with being a potential genetic role model for the regeneration of limbs for humans.
The scientists of the research paper at PNAS put forward the case that using the garfish as a mammalian model for understanding regeneration since the species have a genome that is much closer to humans versus the zebrafish and also they can regenerate their fin.
The regrowing of their fins and in particular the endochondral bones is the equivalent of a human regenerating their arm or leg.
What is the Garfish?
The garfish is considered as a ‘dinosaur fish’ and certainly they look prehistoric from that era because of their ancestor-like body type. It has a long body and is a slender fish growing to around 50 – 75 cm. Also known as the see needle and located in the Atlantic Ocean, Black Sea, Baltic, Caribbean and Mediterranean waters.
Ingo Braasch MSU assistant professor of integrative biology with his team was the first to discover how the garfish regenerate their fins. Taken from the following article, Ingo Braasch states:
They’re becoming a popular, new research organism for biomedical research, largely in part because the gar genome is quite similar to the human genome.– Ingo Braasch
Since the garfish’s genome is similar to the zebrafish, it has been labeled a bridging-species. It is a genetic blueprint that is used for regenerative medicine for humans.
As mentioned above about the creature being a dinosaur fish, the garfish has evolved very slowly and as a result, its ancestral characteristics have been better preserved within its own genome when comparing to other fish.
So along with being a bridging-species to humans, the garfish is also a time traveler for scientists because of the strong genetic connections to the ancient past.
It has been contended a lot that all the mechanisms for regeneration that occur in the Axolotl which can regrow its limbs with ease, are also preserved in humans bet have become dormant.
Limb Regeneration Secrets Unlocked
The research team led by Braasch have identified that genes and their workings that drive regeneration and when they looked at the human genome they observed a startling discovery.
Ingo Braasch points out that the DNA Codes that are responsible for regrowing back the fin in fish also exists in humans. This would further reinforce the statement I have made many times on this website and in the scientific literature that the abilities to regenerate exist in humans but are switched off or remain dormant.
Perhaps due to genetic mutations or evolutionary changes in our ancient past?
What’s missing, though, are the genetic mechanisms that activate these genes in humans. It is likely that the genetic switches that activate the genes have been lost or altered during the evolution of mammals, including humans.– Ingo Braasch
Their research would indicate that the previous regular ancestor of four-legged vertebrates and fish have maintained a specialized mechanism for limb regeneration. This regeneration program has been maintained during the course of evolution in the axolotl and different fish creatures.
Clearly, on-going research in the genetic keys of regeneration will eventually make for a major revolutionary breakthrough in medical science.
Braasch said that continued studies on the common genetic characteristics among vertebrates then…
…the more we can home in on prime targets for awakening this program for regenerative therapies in humans.
Such direct biomedical advances remain in the distant future, but studies of fin regeneration in fish will continue to reveal much about the regenerative potential of vertebrates.”– Source, Michigan State University Today.
What are your thoughts on this article? I think it is amazing that more evidence is coming forward that humans have the innate ability to regenerate but it is currently turned off.
If Salamanders can regrow their limbs and organs then why can’t we?
In fact, this is the very words echoed by the US Military from the project known as The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. They have the long term aim to regrow lost limbs for injured soldiers, along with 3D printing and organ regeneration.
Previously, I have discussed how scientists were using the Zebrafish as a role model on aiding humans to regrow limbs and organs. Now the garfish is showing great promise and perhaps an even better genetic model since the genome is close to humans.
The possibility for humans to regenerate their limbs one day, the genome of the garfish will certainly help in achieving that goal. I love to know your comment below.