MDI Biological Laboratory

Unlocking the Secret to Growing New Limbs

  • August 5, 2016

MDI Biological Laboratory scientists Benjamin L. King, Ph.D., and Voot P. Yin, Ph.D., have identified genetic regulators governing regeneration that are common across species.

Many lower organisms retain the miraculous ability to regenerate the form and function of almost any body part after injury. Humans share many of our genes with these organisms, but our capacity for regeneration is limited.

In research published in the journal PLOS ONE, King and Yin identified the common genetic regulators in three regenerative species: the zebrafish, a common aquarium fish originally from India; the axolotl, a salamander native to the lakes of Mexico; and the bichir, a ray-finned fish from Africa.

The discovery of genetic mechanisms common to all three of these species, which diverged on the evolutionary tree about 420 million years ago, suggests that these mechanisms aren’t specific to individual species, but have been conserved by nature through evolution, including in humans.

Learn more about the scientists’ research on limb regeneration.