The secret to regeneration? Scientists say it lies in the axolotl genome.

Few creatures have captured the attention of both the general public and scientists as thoroughly as a peculiar-looking salamander known as the axolotl. Native only to Lake Xochimilco, south of Mexico City, axolotls are less and less frequently found in the wild. However, they are relatively abundant in captivity, with pet enthusiasts raising them due to their alien features, such as the striking, fringy crown they wear on their heads. Researchers also keep a large supply of axolotl in captivity due to the many unique properties that make them attractive subjects of study.

Perhaps the most notable and potentially useful of these characteristics is the axolotl’s uncanny ability to regenerate. Unlike humans and other animals, axolotls don’t heal large wounds with the fibrous tissue that composes scars. Instead, they simply regrow their injured part. 

“It regenerates almost anything after almost any injury that doesn’t kill it,” said Yale researcher Parker Flowers in a statement. This capability is remarkably robust, even for salamanders. Where regular salamanders are known to regrow lost limbs, axolotls have been observed regenerating ovaries, lung tissues, eyes, and even parts of the brain and spinal cord.

Obviously, figuring out how these alien-looking salamanders manage this magic trick is of great interest to researchers. Doing so could reveal a method for providing humans with a similar regenerative capability. But identifying the genes involved in this process has been tricky — the axolotl has a genome 10 times larger than that of a human’s, making it the largest animal genome sequenced to date.

Fortunately, Flowers and colleagues recently discovered a means of more easily navigating this massive genome and, in the process, identified two genes involved in the axolotl’s remarkable regenerative capacity.

A new role for two genes

We’ve understood the basic process of regeneration in axolotls for a while now. After a limb is severed, for instance, blood cells clot at the site, and skin cells start to divide and cover the exposed wound. Then, nearby cells begin to travel to the site and congregate in a blob called the blastema. The blastema then begins to differentiate into the cells needed to grow the relevant body part and grow outward according to the appropriate limb structure, resulting in a new limb identical to its severed predecessor.

But identifying which genes code for this process and what mechanisms guide its actions is less clear. Building off of previous work using CRISPR/Cas9, Flowers and colleagues were able to imprint regenerated cells with a kind of genetic barcode that enabled them to trace the cells back to their governing genes. In this way, they were able to identify and track 25 genes suspected to be involved in the regeneration process. From these 25, they identified two genes related to the axolotls’ tail regeneration; specifically, the catalase and fetub genes.

Although the researchers stressed that many more genes were likely driving this complicated process, the finding does have important implications for human beings — namely that humans also possess similar genes to the two identified in this study. Despite sharing similar genes, the same gene can do very different work across species and within a single animal. The human equivalent gene FETUB, for example, produces proteins that regulate bone resorption, regulates insulin and hepatocyte growth factor receptors, responds to inflammation, and more. In the axolotl, it appears that regulating the regenerative process is another duty.

Since humans possess the same genes that enable axolotls to regenerate, researchers are optimistic that one day we will be able to speed up wound healing or even to completely replicate the axolotl’s incredible ability to regenerate organs and limbs. With continued research such as this, it’s only a matter of time until this strange salamander gives ups its secrets.

Link Original: https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/axolotl-regeneration?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1




UV-LED disinfection of Coronavirus: Wavelength effect

LED lights found to kill coronavirus: Global first in fight against COVID-19

NEWS / CORONAVIRUS

TAU finding suggests technology can be installed in air conditioning, vacuum, and water systems

December 14th, 2020 SUPPORT THIS RESEARCH

Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) have proven that the coronavirus can be killed efficiently, quickly, and cheaply using ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs). They believe that the UV-LED technology will soon be available for private and commercial use.

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Common class of drugs linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease

A team of scientists, led by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, report that a class of drugs used for a broad array of conditions, from allergies and colds to hypertension and urinary incontinence, may be associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline, particularly in older adults at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

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Japanese doctor who lived to 105—his spartan diet, views on retirement, and other rare longevity tips

Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara had an extraordinary life for many reasons. For starters, the Japanese physician and longevity expert lived until the age of 105.

When he died, in 2017, Hinohara was chairman emeritus of St. Luke’s International University and honorary president of St. Luke’s International Hospital, both in Tokyo.

Perhaps best known for his book, “Living Long, Living Good,” Hinohara offered advice that helped make Japan the world leader in longevity. Some were fairly intuitive points, while others were less obvious:

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Técnica com ultrassom

O glioblastoma é o tipo de tumor primário mais comum no cérebro, altamente agressivo e maligno. Pacientes com esse tipo de câncer geralmente são submetidos a ressecção seguida de radioterapia e quimioterapia. Apesar do tratamento, a sobrevida é de 12 a 18 meses a partir da data do diagnóstico. Novos tratamentos têm sido desenvolvidos e um deles tem se mostrado promissor. O estudo da referência aborda uma técnica que envolve a aplicação de ultrassom focal na região tumoral através do crânio intacto associada à aplicação de uma substância que sensibiliza as células para os efeitos prejudiciais do som. A terapia sonodinâmica representa uma grande promessa para o tratamento de cânceres que se espalharam para áreas sensíveis do corpo (metástases) e, em particular, do cérebro. 📑♒🧠Este tema será abordado no módulo Tratamento & Reabilitação do Cérebro da @mybrainuniversity

Referência: Sheehan, K., Sheehan, D., Sulaiman, M. et al. Investigation of the tumoricidal effects of sonodynamic therapy in malignant glioblastoma brain tumors. J Neurooncol 148, 9-16 (2020). doi.org/10.1007/s11060-020-03504-w (imagem autoral)


Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and personal strength

Discover the simple techniques to help experience deeper joy, cheerful contentment, and long-term happiness

It’s often said that happiness is a choice: You can either choose to be happy or choose to be sad, stressed, or anxious.

But simply choosing happiness doesn’t always make it so. Many times, you can’t simply force a smile and make believe that everything is coming up roses.

Thankfully, there are much more effective ways, based squarely on research-proven Positive Psychology strategies and concrete techniques that can help you deal effectively with life’s challenges and attain long-term happiness.

That’s why the health experts at Harvard Medical School have created the all-new Positive Psychology Course — the exclusive interactive resource that helps you apply the same tools that are widely used by mental health professionals to help treat a variety of condition, from stress, anxiety and anger to coping with grief and loss.

Step-by-step, Harvard’s Positive Psychology Course will give you strategies to build happier, more positive lifestyle. Enroll today and you’ll discover how to…

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