The loss of a limb, an arm, a leg, a digit, or may be an eye or any other important organ in any accident have created lifelongdisabilities for people who survive such accidents. The accidents are fatal and often lead to limb loss and spinal cord injury.The spinal cord injury has been reported to be caused more by road accidents and lead to reduced life expectancy.
The question here is can we imagine a situation where humans could regenerate their lost limbs or digits? Can there be the wonders like regeneration of the damaged human eye?Can the injured Spinal cord or even the brain be repaired by the miracles of regeneration? Can there be a new discovery in the medical sciences where humans themselves can regenerate their lost body parts?
Present researchers and scientists are actively working on the possibilities of such a wonder which would take the medical sciences to a whole new level of achievement.
Regeneration is the ability of the lost tissues or organs to regrow itself after it has suffered an injury. In the human beings some part of the cells, tissues such as skin and also the larger organs like liver have the ability to regrow readily but many organs and body parts do not possess this ability. A person who has lost his arm in an accident or any other casualties, under any circumstances will not be able to regrow the lost arm.
Recently, scientists have discovered an amphibian which can readily regenerate any of its lost body parts or organs.This wonder animal, Axolotl possesses the miraculous super power of the regeneration.Axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum, also known as the Mexican walking fish, is often related to the tiger salamander. They are found exclusively in the lake complex of Xochimilco, near the Mexico City. They are found to live permanently in water.
The creature can fully regrow its lost limbs, bones, muscles and nerves as well as its eye lens within a few weeks. To our amazement it has also been found that it could also re-grow its spinal cord.
How does this regeneration in the axolotl work? The entire process which leads to such wonder includes little complex organization of the surviving cells of the amputated limb. After the loss of limbs, blood clots prevent further bleeding at the cut site. The next step is the formation of the layers of cells from the wound epidermis. This leads to the blastema formation. The blastema helps in re-differentiation and then finally there is re-development of the lost limb.
On injecting a drug to get rid of the macrophages in the axolotl’s limb before amputation leads to the accumulation of a scar tissue instead of regrowth. This scarring has been found to be unusual in axolotl. This suggests that the macrophages are essential for regeneration, which made scientists conclude that the immune system plays a very important role in the regeneration ability of axolotl.
The axolotl also possess the lens regeneration ability. It has been found by the various experiments that the Axolotls have the ability to regenerate the entire lens throughout their lives. The lens tissues have potent cells known as pigment epithelial cells which are present in the dorsal iris that can be activated to carry out various events which lead to trans-differentiation. But it is to be also noted that the ventral iris never contributes to regeneration ability.
Yet to amaze, studies have shown that the spinal cord resection in the axolotl resulted in complete regeneration with the ependymal cells. These ependymal cells possess the potential to differentiate into astrocytes,oligodendrocytes and also the neurons. When experiments were performed on the axolotl ability to regenerate the spinal cord, the results showed that there was complete anatomical and functional recovery of damaged spinal cord within two months.
Axolotls are also bestowed with the capabilities of adding new neurons to the brain throughout the life and thus repair parts of the brain after any forms of mechanical injury. Experiments on this ability of the axolotl proved that the adult axolotl can regenerate the original neuronal diversity. It also indicated that beyond instructing and directing the new neurons, it also has the capability of regenerating a diversity of the neurons which are electro-physiologically functional, even when there is removal of a large region of the brain.
The scientists, as well researchers are completely astounded by the phenomenal regeneration ability of the amphibian, Axolotl. They are endeavouring to incorporate the magical regeneration property from the Axolotl to the human being .There is still a long way inre growing a human limb,human spinal cord or any other human organ,but the understanding of regeneration in axolotl is being continuously worked on by the researchers and scientists. Aided by various tools to check the fine genetic details of the regeneration process, we are slowly heading towards complete understanding of the regeneration in axolotl. The scientists are working diligently and we can all hope that one day humans will be able to regenerate just like an axolotl.
Axolotl in Mythology
In the Aztec mythology, Xolotl was the god with associations to both lightening and death. After the Fifth sun was created, the gods decided to sacrifice themselves for the newly created Sun. But Xolotl, was hesitant to die and thus he transformed himself into a maize plant, a doubled maguey plant and an amphibious animal, the AXOLOTL.
Some interesting facts about Axolotl
- The axolotl is not a reptile but like all salamanders it is an amphibian.
- Naturally in the wild it can be only found in Mexico and nowhere else.
- The animal does not undergo metamorphosis but instead undergoes the incredible characteristic that is neoteny.
- The axolotls eat small fishes, worms and insect larvae.
- They possess gills on the outside and also have lungs.
- They are edible and they are consumed in some parts of Japan.