US Researchers Regenerate Lizard Tails Similar to Their Biological Ones

·2-min read

A team of researchers from the medical school at the University of South California (USC), in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, have achieved a milestone that has never been done in the 250-million-year large history of biology. The findings of the study have made it possible for lizards to grow tails similar to the biological tail they are born with, with the help of stem cells.

Lizards are known to have regeneration abilities, with which they can grow their decapitated tails. However, the tails that grow back are not the same as the ones they biologically hone. While the original tail incorporates a spinal column and an intricate nervous system, the regrown tail is a substandard structure of cartilage tissues.

With the help of this new study, researchers were able to grow tails with what is called ‘Dorsoventral Patterning.’ This pattern involves a skeletal, nervous, and cartilage framework, where the skeletal and nerve tissues occupy the upper part of the tail called dorsal, and the cartilage tissues occupy the lower part of the tail called ventral.

“Lizards have been around for more than 250 million years, and in all those years, no lizard has ever regrown a tail with a dorsoventral patterning, until now,” Thomas Lozito, the corresponding author of the study, said in a press release. Lozito added, “This is one of the only cases where regeneration of an appendage has been significantly improved through stem cell-based therapy.”

The study is based on an analysis done by the team at the USC, who observed the differences in adult regeneration and embryonic development of tails in lizards. They found that neural stem cells (NSCs) played a vital role in both cases. They also found that during the regeneration, the NCSs block the signals that encourage the growth of the neural and skeletal system and prioritize cartilage formation in the tail, which is not the case with embryonic development.

“Digging deeper and perfecting the currently imperfect regeneration of lizard’s tail, we can devise a blueprint for the healing process of wounds and injuries that are close to impossible to heal in humans,” said Lozito.

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