Tadpole's tail holds lessons for healing

London, Jan 14 (IANS) Tadpoles re-growing their tails within a week of losing them hold vital lessons for human healing and regeneration, according to researchers.

The discovery made by Enrique Amaya, professor of life sciences and his team at The University of Manchester's Healing Foundation Centre, potentially paves the way to better therapies for regeneration and healing.

In an earlier study, Amaya's group identified which genes were activated during tail regeneration, particularly those linked to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), believed to be harmful to cells, the journal Nature Cell Biology reports.

To examine ROS during tail regeneration, they measured the level of H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide, a common reactive oxygen species in cells) using a fluorescent molecule that changes light emission properties in the presence of H2O2, according to a Manchester statement.

Using this advanced form of imaging, Amaya and group were able to show that a marked increase in H2O2 occurs following tail amputation and interestingly, they showed that the H2O2 levels remained elevated during the entire tail regeneration, which lasts several days.

"We were very surprised to find these high levels of ROS during tail regeneration. Traditionally, ROS have been thought to have a negative impact on cells. But in this case they seemed to be having a positive impact on tail re-growth," said Amaya.

The publication of Amaya's study comes just days after a paper from the Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, James Watson, who has suggested antioxidants could be harmful to people in the later stages of cancer.

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