Regenerative medicine researchers turn to spiny mouse for inspiration

05 October 2012


Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Scientists working in the US have been examining the African Spiny Mouse for its ability to regenerate damaged tissue.

The mammal has the ability to regrow its skin if it is harmed without it scarring and this could be used in the future to assist with the treatment of human patients.

Regenerative medicine specialists and biologists from the University of Florida have been exploring the qualities of the mouse to see if they can be adapted for use in medical applications such as wound healing and tissue regeneration.

According to an article by the experts in the journal Nature, the abilities of the African Spiny Mouse are similar to those of the salamander, which is an amphibian and so poses a greater problem when it comes to translating results to humans.

"The African spiny mouse appears to regenerate ear tissue in much the way that a salamander regrows a limb that has been lost to a predator. Skin, hair follicles, cartilage - it all comes back," explained Ashley W Seifert, a post-doctoral researcher at the university.

The human skin researchers explained autonomy, or the ability to cast off body parts when under threat from predators, is very rare in mammals, but the African Spiny Mouse has skin that can tear away and be regrown without obvious signs of damage.

ABC News recently reported an innovative new regenerative medicine treatment currently being trialled could help injured service personnel to regain control of their limbs and trick the human body into repairing itself.

By implanting tissue from pigs that has been stripped of cells - known as extracellular matrix - into the body, it can prompt stem cells to rebuild muscle, with Stephen Badylak, Deputy Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, telling the news source: "It's a game changer. It's definitely more effective than anything that's been tried to date."

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