For a salamander, the loss of a limb isn’t a terrible event. If a leg or a tail is suddenly amputated, the amphibious creature can simply regrow the lost body part, as if it had never been damaged at all.
Because of this incredible natural ability, the salamander has long been a point of interest for many in the field of regenerative medicine. And now, researchers at the University College London are unlocking the secrets behind the salamander’s limb regeneration techniques, hoping to one day apply it to human amputees.
In a new study published in Stem Cell Reports, researchers have discovered the importance of the ‘ERK pathway’ – a chain of proteins that must be constantly activated in order for the salamander to generate new body parts. According to the scientists, the constant activation of these proteins triggers the salamander’s cells to reprogram themselves and divide, slowly turning into the structures that have been lost.