Throughout human life, many cells such as hair follicles and certain tissues such as liver can be continuously replaced to maintain tissue integrity in response to normal, daily wear and tear. However, the human response to more serious tissue damage, such as acute damage to limbs or to the spinal cord, is limited to relatively simple wound healing, whereby collagenous scar tissue fills the injury site, assuring the tissue’s structural integrity but often resulting in a debilitating loss of functional activity. While humans do exhibit some very limited regenerative capacity (e.g. finger tips), other vertebrates exhibit sometimes astonishing regenerative ability. Salamanders show the highest diversity in being able to regenerate limbs, tail, heart, eyes and jaw.
The aim of the Echeverri lab is to understand at the molecular and cellular level how an axolotl can functionally repair spinal cord and limbs after injury without any formation of scar tissue and why mammals cannot.
Dr. Echeverri is Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota.
Audience: Scientific and Medical Community.