Boffins have found a way to make it possible for humans to regrow lost limbs, much like frogs.
The team from the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia have isolated the gene which is stopping the same regeneration that frogs use to grow an extra limb after it has been lost.
By turning off p21, the process can be miraculously switched back on and mice lacking the gene gain the ability to regenerate lost or damaged tissue.
Mammals heal wounds by forming a scar but those lacking p21 forming a blastema, a structure associated with rapid cell growth.
According to the Wistar researchers, the loss of p21 causes the cells of these mice to behave more like regenerating embryonic stem cells rather than adult mammalian cells. This means they act as if they creating rather thane mending the body.
According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which we get for the spot the protozoa competition, the experiements provide solid evidence to link tissue regeneration to the control of cell division.
Mice which had damaged ears regrew them and it is theoretically easy to do the same thing to humans.
Professor Ellen Heber-Katz, the lead scientist, said her team was just beginning to understand the repercussions of these findings.