Just yesterday the journal Nature has published a research by Takeo, M. et al on how fingernails regenerate. You might ask yourself: why would I ever want to know about fingernails? The answer: because this research shows that nail growth could be a step towards limb growth.
Some mammals, we know, can grow limbs. An example of that is a salamander. However, other mammals, including humans, are not as fortunate. We can, however, grow nails. Up to know, the way we could grow nails was not explored. This new research is a breakthrough to understanding how the nail and organisms regulating the nail function, leading to a better comprehension of how it gets reproduced.
Apparently, there are Nail Stem Cells (NSCs) that are present in what is called the nail matrix. What’s more is that the differentiation of tissue growth is also directly linked to the regeneration of it. It is understood that re-growth happens thanks to Wnt activation, which is the process in which protein structures allow to pass signals from one cell to another. However, it has also been noted that if the nail is cut too close to the base, where these reproduction systems reside, then it cannot regenerate.
Due to the nature of the research and the results acquired, I’m sure can be easily seen that the gathered information can be very useful. This study might indeed be the leading pathway to exploring new ways in which new limbs might be re-created. Inasmuch as we are still very far from that, hopefully this study will spark the interest of many researchers. Certainly, any follow-up study could be very enlightening, whether it deepens this research on nail regrowth, or it applies this principles and findings to any other data gathered on tissue re-growth. Who knows: maybe one day sometime in the future, limb regeneration might be an option for humans.
If you are intrigued by this research and want to find out more about it, you can find the published article here.