Blind World Magazine

Regeneration holds promise for ORGAN REGENERATION INCLUDING THE EYES.

The New York Times
April 15, 2006.

Stem cell therapy has captured the limelight as a way to repair the body with its own natural systems. But a few scientists believe another path may be as promising.

Many species can regenerate a wide variety of body parts. The salamander can regrow its limbs, tail, jaws, the lens and retina of its eye, and its intestine. The zebra fish will regrow fins, scales, spinal cord and part of its heart.

Mammals, too, can renew damaged body parts. All, including humans, can regenerate the liver. Deer regrow their antlers. In many of these cases, regeneration begins when the mature cells at the site of a wound start to revert to an immature state. The clump of immature cells, known as a blastema, regrows the missing part, perhaps by tapping into the embryogenesis program that first formed the animal.

People, of course, cannot regrow their limbs like newts, and do not form blastemas. But the capacity for regeneration exists in such a wide variety of species that the machinery for regeneration must be a basic part of genetic equipment, but the genes have fallen into disuse in many species.

Last December, Mark Keating, who studies regeneration in zebra fish, identified a gene that is essential for initiating blastema formation when the fish’s fin is cut. Both this gene and another he has found also exist in people, suggesting the genetic basis for regeneration may still be in place even though the body can no longer evoke it.

End of article.

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