RESEARCHERS ADVANCE IN REGENERATIVE BODY PARTS INVESTIGATION

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By: Camila Mota, Copy Editor

Innovative minds lead to innovative developments; these developments have led to new creations that have been able to change the face of scientific research, including that of medical research. Scientists have tirelessly investigated the possibility of creating whole regenerative organs, not just tissues and limbs. This possibility has broadened its scope in recent years with the positive outcomes from research with animals.

Throughout the process of determining the key to regenerative body parts, researchers have come to the conclusion that the salamander’s genes allow it to regrow body parts. With this, researchers are able to find a link between salamanders’ and other mammals’ regenerative capacities. One of the possible links researchers have discovered is the EKR pathway, which allows human cells to be manipulated in a way to increase their regenerative potentials.

In addition to salamanders, scientists have also been working with flatworms, both with and without heads. Due to ethical concerns, many researchers and scientists are hesitant as to how far they want the investigation to go.

Biology teacher Travis Pilch says, “The regeneration of lost human limbs is possible, but the complex genetic signaling hasn’t been worked out. I see nothing ethically wrong with replacing a limb. The ethical problems would surround the treatment of animals during the discovery of the genetic and developmental process that would work for humans.”

The main idea as to how the EKR pathway works all has to do with genes. The pathway allows proteins to signal each other and in turn differentiate between different genes. These genes are being worked with in order to develop new therapy treatments.

Junior Irina Flores says, ”I think that in terms of our future, the ability to  regenerate body parts opens a lot of doors for veterans who have become amputees due to war[…]having the ability to regenerate body parts allows those who are simply isolated from society, such as veterans, improve their lives.”

Progress has undoubtedly been made in this long standing investigation. Further research into the investigation of regenerative body parts will allow scientists to discover even more molecules and links that are part of the pathway.

Junior Naveen Krishnan says, “Losing a limb today is less significant than it was 50 years ago.”

Although the process of regenerating whole body parts for humans seems to have still a long way to go, the possibility is in reach. The past few years have demonstrated that the individuals behind the study truly believe that the investigation can come to a conclusion, including individuals that have expressed their own investigations on TED talks.