DNA Switch Could Give People the Power to Regrow Limbs

By: | March 27th, 2019

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Many animals are capable of regenerating new parts of their bodies to replace those that have been damaged. 

In coming future, humans may also develop the ability to regrow parts of their bodies.

Researchers from Harvard University have identified a “DNA switch” enabling animals to regenerate the parts of their bodies. The team found that a ‘master control gene’ called early growth response (EGR), is responsible for the worm’s power to regenerate its lost flesh.

We humans also carry EGR, and we produce it when cells are stressed and need repair. But in humans, this gene only seems to work at a cellular level and it does not seem to trigger large-scale regeneration.

Since the genes are wired differently in humans, scientists are now trying to find a way to change this so that we too can ‘regenerate’. 

Dr Mansi Srivastava, an assistant professor of organismic and evolutionary biology who led the study, said, “It’s a very natural question to look at the natural world and think, if a gecko can do this, why can’t I?”

“There are many species that can regenerate, and others that can’t, but it turns out if you compare genomes across all animals, most of the genes that we have are also in the three-banded panther worm.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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