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Cannibal smiling salamander that eats its siblings arms could hold the answer to…

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Axolot (pictured above) is a species of rural salamander near Mexico City.

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Cannibal smiling salamander that eats his brothers' arms may have the answer to the regeneration of human limbs

  • Rare salamander living near Mexico City has unique ability to regenerate limbs
  • Called axolot, amphibians eat their brothers' limbs when food is scarce.
  • Limb regeneration includes skin, bone, muscle and even nerve endings

In the countryside near Mexico City, a rare breed of salamander has caught the attention of biologists who think the creature can help them understand limb regeneration.

Because salamanders, called axolotes, are born in large families in habitats where space food is scarce, they often eat their brothers' limbs as food.

Surprisingly, within a few months, the entire limb will have regenerated intact, including skin, bone, muscle tissue and even nerve endings.

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Axolot (pictured above) is a species of rural salamander near Mexico City.

Other amphibians have been found to regenerate limbs, but axolotl is unique in that their regenerated limbs are in as good condition as the original limbs.

James Monaghan, an associate professor of biology at Northeastern University, says the extraordinary ability is due to some unique properties in axolot cell function.

"When an injury occurs, some tips are released on that animal that tells cells near the injury that go from a resting state to a regenerative state," Monaghan said. Pys.org.

So far, Monaghan and his team of researchers have identified a molecule they believe plays a role in the generative process called neuregulin-1.

James Monaghan (pictured above), associate professor of biology at Northeastern Univesrity, studies the unique ability of axolots to regenerate limbs.

James Monaghan (pictured above), associate professor of biology at Northeastern Univesrity, studies the unique ability of axolots to regenerate limbs.

When the molecule is removed, the axolotls appear to lose their regenerative capacity and when added again they recover it.

Monaghan warns that there is probably more to history than a simple molecule that acts as an on / off switch.

Axolot (pictured above) was born in large families in regions where food is scarce, leaving few options beyond cannibalism.

Axolot (pictured above) was born in large families in regions where food is scarce, leaving few options beyond cannibalism.

Axolotl has the largest genome ever sequenced, which means there are a huge amount of humans still do not understand about their bodies and genes.

Further study of axolotl may lead to major advances in human health, including the treatment of degenerative retinal diseases.

Axolotls (pictured above) have the largest genome ever sequenced, which means that the explanation for their regenerative abilities is probably complicated.

Axolotls (pictured above) have the largest genome ever sequenced, which means that the explanation for their regenerative abilities is probably complicated.

Monaghan tried to place the neuregulin-1 molecule in the stem cells and then test its regenerative capacity in pig eyes, which are similar to human eyes.

Stem cells failed to connect and died, but when the same stem cells were used in the axolot's eye, far fewer cells died, suggesting that they may be another molecule or mechanism that causes neuregulin-1 to take effect. .

The exact explanation has remained elusive, but Monaghan continues with hopeful progress.

"You've done an arm once," he says.

"If we could learn to go back on these programs, our bodies could do the rest of the work."

WHAT CAUSES SPECIES TO REGENERATE?

All organisms, including humans, have the ability to regenerate to some extent, but the process is much more developed in many invertebrates such as worms and starfish.

These animals can grow new heads, tails and other body parts when injured.

Scientists do not know why mammals do not have the same capacity, but they regenerate skin, muscles and blood.

Every multicellular organism is constructed from a single cell, which divides into two identical cells, then four, and so on.

Each of these cells contains exactly the same twisted strands of DNA and is considered pluripotent – meaning it can give rise to every possible cell type in the body.

But at some point along the way, these early cells – known as embryonic stem cells – resign to a different fate and become skin cells, heart cells, muscle cells, or another type of cell.

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