Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Regenerative medicine: Could the ways animals regenerate hair and feathers help restore human fingers and toes?

Date:
May 10, 2012
Source:
American Physiological Society
Summary:
A review article that examines what's known about regenerative biology and applies it to regenerative medicine. Perhaps this knowledge could one day be used to regrow lost body parts.

Peacocks grow new feathers easily. Could the ways animals regenerate hair and feathers lead to restoring human fingers and toes?
Credit: misu / Fotolia

This summer's action film, "The Amazing Spider-Man™," is another match-up between the superhero and his nemesis the Lizard. Moviegoers and comic book fans alike will recall that the villain, AKA Dr. Curt Connors, was a surgeon who, after losing an arm, experimented with cell generation and reptilian DNA and was eventually able to grow back his missing limb.

The latest issue of the journal Physiology contains a review article that looks at possible routes that unlock cellular regeneration in general, and the principles by which hair and feathers regenerate themselves in particular.

The authors apply what is currently known about regenerative biology to the emerging field of regenerative medicine, which is being transformed from fantasy to reality.

Review Article

While the concept of regenerative medicine is relatively new, animals are well known to remake their hair and feathers regularly by normal regenerative physiological processes. In their review, the authors focus on (1) how extrafollicular environments can regulate hair and feather stem cell activities and (2) how different configurations of stem cells can shape organ forms in different body regions to fulfill changing physiological needs.

The review outlines previous research on the role of normal regeneration of hair and feathers throughout the lifespan of various birds and mammals. The researchers include what is currently known about the mechanism behind this re-growth, as well as what gaps still exist in the knowledge base and remain ripe for future research.

The review examines dozens of papers on normal "physiological regeneration" -- the re-growth that happens over the course of an animal's life and not in response to an injury. This regeneration takes place to accommodate different stages in an animal's life (e.g., replacing downy chick feathers with an adult chicken's, or replacing the fine facial hair of a young boy with the budding beard of an adolescent), or in response to various environmental conditions (e.g., cats shedding a thick winter coat in the summer heat but re-growing it when the seasons change again, or snowshoe hares switching from brown in the summer to white in the winter for camouflage).

These changes seem to respond both to internal cues such as physiology of the hair follicle itself, or external cues such as the environment, but the mechanisms behind these normal alterations are largely unknown. Stem cells inside the follicle prompt hair and feather regeneration, but researchers are still unsure how to guide those cells to form the shape, size, and orientation of these "skin appendages" so that controlled re-growth is possible. Additionally, scientists are still unsure how to re-grow hair on skin in people after severe injuries that lead to scar tissue.

Importance of the Findings

The reviewed studies suggest that while researchers are making headway in understanding how and why hair and feathers regenerate after normal loss or in response to different life stages, much still remains unknown. This missing knowledge could hold valuable clues to learning how to regenerate much more complicated and valuable structures after loss to injury, such as fingers and toes.

"Using the episodic regeneration of skin appendages as a clear readout, we have the opportunity to understand and modulate the behavior or adult stem cells and organ regeneration at a level heretofore unknown," the authors say.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physiological Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cheng-Ming Chuong, Valerie A. Randall, Randall B. Widelitz, Ping Wu, and Ting-Xin Jiang. Physiological Regeneration of Skin Appendages and Implications for Regenerative Medicine Physiology. Physiology, April 2012 27:61-72 DOI: 10.1152/physiol.00028.2011

Cite This Page:

American Physiological Society. "Regenerative medicine: Could the ways animals regenerate hair and feathers help restore human fingers and toes?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510113859.htm>.
American Physiological Society. (2012, May 10). Regenerative medicine: Could the ways animals regenerate hair and feathers help restore human fingers and toes?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510113859.htm
American Physiological Society. "Regenerative medicine: Could the ways animals regenerate hair and feathers help restore human fingers and toes?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510113859.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins