Limb regeneration in humans: Is it possible?

Faeeza LORGAT, Sarah GENT


Limb regeneration is a concept that has been used in many popular movies, including the 2012 movie, The Amazing Spiderman, in which the villain, Dr. Connors, injects himself with lizard DNA with the purpose of regenerating his arm. Combining the DNA of a lizard with a human, however, will not ensure regenerative abilities in humans. This is a result of the signalling pathway, wnt signalling/ -catenin, not being activated to express regenerative genes. Natural regenerative species, such as axolotls and tadpoles, have specific Hox genes responsible for regeneration of limbs after amputation, including HoxA9, HoxA11, and HoxA13. This paper discusses the possibility of introducing these Hox genes into human DNA by virus-mediated transfection as well as using an expression vector, thereby enabling limb regeneration. The wnt signalling pathway could be used to express the three Hox genes at the wound site to stimulate regeneration of the amputated limb.

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