When we think of stem cell treatments, it feels so new that it can hardly seem to be real. And yet, there are countless examples of evidence, all showing how impactful regenerative medicine can be.
But what’s perhaps even more interesting is not the idea that we can manipulate stem cells into regrowing cartilage and bone — it’s the fact that regeneration has happened for billions of years. From various animals and species to our own human bodies, living species have long been able to regrow and regenerate in certain situations. Stem Cell Carolina is going to explore this topic in our blog. See how animals and nature have the ability to regenerate, and work with our clinic for treating osteoarthritis, worn down cartilage, and so much more.
Regrowing Limbs and Tails
Lizards are famous for being able to regrow their tails. It’s part of an escape technique, where they can detach their tail and use that time to get away — fun fact, tails will wiggle, even after apart from the lizard’s body! Whether all or part of a tail is lost, a lizard can regrow a new one.
In terms of growing limbs, starfish can grow back their arms as needed. In fact, even if a starfish has lost four out of its five arms, it can regrow to become a full starfish again.
Spiders are another example of a creature that can regrow limbs. Whether they’re missing a leg or part of their leg, they can regrow it back.
In addition to being able to regrow its limbs and tail, a rare type of Mexican salamander can regrow its heart, brain, and more. Axolotls do not need to metamorphose in order to reach adulthood. They also don’t heal by scarring, and can regrow parts of their body that nearly all other life forms cannot. Even if they become paralyzed, they can still grow new neurons and new neural pathways that allow them to use their limbs once again. Axolotls can also receive a transplant without any negative impact — a vast difference from the preparation and care that goes into transplanting artificial limbs or organs with humans.
Axolotls are studied in the science community and are of particular interest for cardiologists and cardiology researchers. It’s been discovered that they have a mutant gene that causes heart failure in human embryos.
It’s not just rare salamanders who can regrow their organs, however. When a biopsy is taken from an internal organ, these organs can heal themselves and repair what was lost/taken. Skin, however, is the most common example of regeneration that we see (and yes, skin is an organ!). Any scrapes or cuts will repair themselves with time, although scars are pretty likely. We’re constantly shedding skin cells and growing new ones, regardless of injury.
Antlers and Teeth
Deer, moose, elk, and other mammals with antlers will regularly shed these unique parts of their body. As common a fact as this is, we rarely think about how incredible it is for antlers — sometimes weighing as much as 60 lbs. — in just three months.
For organisms and creatures that aren’t as complex, entire bodies can be regrown. This is true for both planarians (flatworms) and sea squirts. Sea squirts can repopulate both sexually or asexually, and can regrow themselves as needed.
Planarians are also fascinating in that they can regrow an entire new version of themselves if cut in half. Interestingly enough, an article from National Geographic stated that “Also this year, scientists at Tufts University showed that a decapitated planarian will not only regrow a new head, it will retain learned information as well as planarians who never lost their heads.”
Regeneration has been life’s way of continuing to grow, adapt, and thrive. It’s important to remember that for all the new and advanced stem cell treatments that exist (such as those as Stem Cell Carolina), science is continuing to expand on processes that have been around for eons.
At Stem Cell Carolina, we offer the most up-to-date, advanced stem cell treatments to help your body work and function in ways that it likely used to, but has since slowed down due to age and/or injury. Schedule a consultation with our clinic in North Carolina today!