Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Yasuhiko Kawakami of the Salk Institute of Biological Studies thinks he may have found a way for humans to regrow lost limbs like starfish and salamanders. They have a pathway of molecular signals that allow this ability. It has been called Wnt. Kawakami as well as molecular biologist Randall Moon says this pathway is also present in mammals like us. Kawakami found that by enhancing the activity of the Wnt pathway, he could encourage new wings to grow in embryonic chicks whose wings had been surgically removed. It has been known for a long time that children have the ability to regrow lost fingertips. As children mature over eleven years, they lose this capacity. The picture on the left shows an embryonic chicken with growing back after its removal.