Some organisms are able to regenerate important body parts such as heart and limbs but others like humans are not able to do so. The reason for this may lie in the body’s innate immune system. A recent study conducted by Dr. James Godwin, MDI biological laboratory, Harbor, Maine found that formation of a new heart muscle is dependent on the presence of macrophages (a type of White Blood Cells) when an axolotl (Mexican Salamander) is artificially induced by a heart attack.
The depletion of macrophages in the salamanders formed a permanent scar tissue which blocked the regeneration. The primary goal of Dr. Goldwin is, regeneration of key body parts in humans with the use of drug-therapies derived from macrophages which may promote scar-free healing or would trigger the genetic programs that help in the formation of macrophages, which further promote scar-free healing. This study suggests that researchers should pay more attention to the genetic signals that control scarring along with the proliferation of cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells).
Godwin explained, “If humans could get over the fibrosis hurdle in the same way that salamanders do, the system that blocks regeneration in humans could potentially be broken, We don’t know yet if it’s only scarring that prevents regeneration or if other factors are involved. But if we’re really lucky, we might find that the suppression of scarring is sufficient in and of itself to unlock our endogenous ability to regenerate.”