Is it really Possible for Humans to Regenerate Body Parts? We Got The Genes Already!

This acorn worm has grown a new head, internal organs and neural tube within fifteen days after being cut in half. Scientists believe humans have nearly all the genes needed to regenerate in a similar way, if the process is unlocked(Credit: Shawn Luttrell/University of Washington)

Ok, it may sound a little creepy, but it also has wonderful benefits that simply cannot be ignored.  Being able to regenerate body parts that become damaged or dismembered like that of a starfish would be a great power to have. No longer would anyone need to worry about bionic body parts, when you can just grow yourself a new one.

As far fetched as the idea sounds, it’s not completely out of the question. There are several processes in life that we have been able to mimic in both animals and humans, so why should this be any different?  We already use regeneration through our nails, skin, and hair, so why not body parts?

Billie Swalla is Director of Friday Harbor Laboratories and a biology professor at the University of Washington and says, “I really think we as humans have the potential to regenerate, but something isn’t allowing that to happen. I believe humans have these same genes, and if we can figure out how to turn these genes, we can regenerate.”

As part of Swalla’s research, the acorn worm was studied closely mainly for two reasons:  they can regenerate any part of their body; they’re genetically similar to humans regarding their body structure and similar DNA. Shawn Lutrell, the co-author of the study, says, “We share thousands of genes with these animals, and we have many, if not all, of the same genes they are using to regenerate body structures.”  The researchers are hopeful that eventually, they will discover how to start this process in other animals, including humans.

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