The story of the regenerating mice first popped up on science sites a couple of weeks ago, but it hadn't caught my eye until I saw the details in this Wired News article. In brief, bioscientists at the Wistar Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, working on the auto-immune disorder Lupus, accidentally created mice with the uncanny ability to regrow lost limbs and to heal, without scars, serious injuries to tissues and organs, including the heart, liver and brain.
Amazing, yes, but it gets even better:
The researchers also made a remarkable second discovery: When cells from the regenerative mice were injected into normal mice, the normal mice adopted the ability to regenerate. And when the special mice bred with normal mice, their offspring inherited souped-up regeneration capabilities.
The researchers, who have since been joined by other institutes in the project, have yet to figure out precisely which set of genes and proteins make this amphibian-like regeneration capacity possible. When they do, it may well lead to similar kinds of healing in human beings; Cambridge scientist Aubrey de Grey, a specialist in life extension, argues that this breakthrough may well be the turning point in work on radical longevity (or, in his terms, "engineered negligible senescence").
We're also going to need better mouse traps.
The spring-loaded ones they have now would just get them mad.
Too bad the article doesn't say anything about whether this strain of mice lived longer due to the regenerative genes.
Hum. Maybe we could put these genes into our cattle and chickens and make the parts we like to eat "renewable". What an awful thought.
It's cheaper, faster and more ethical just to grow the muscle tissue, the meat, alone and separately. There were several articles about just such technology here several months ago.