Humans Could be Able to Regenerate Skin
Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) have discovered a genetic factor that allows adult skin to repair itself like that of a baby.
The study published in journal eLife, identified a factor in baby mice that“acts like a molecular switch” to control the formation of hair follicles as they develop hair follicles in the first week of life.
After skin forms the“switch”is mostly turned off and remains off in adult tissue. However, the researchers worked out a way to reactivate the Lef1“switch”in specialised cells in adult mice and found that their skin was able to heal wounds without scarring.
The reformed skin was even covered with fur and was able to create goosebumps – something that human adult skin is unable to do.
The findings could have implications for better skin wound treatment and preventing some aspects of the ageing process in human skin. The researchers suggested that the secret to human regeneration might be found by studying our own early development.
"We were able to take the innate ability of young, neonatal skin to regenerate and transfer that ability to old skin," said Ryan Driskell, an assistant professor in WSU's School of Molecular Biosciences. "We have shown in principle that this kind of regeneration is possible."
"We can still look to other organisms for inspiration, but we can also learn about regeneration by looking at ourselves," said Driskell. "We do generate new tissue, once in our life, as we are growing."
The WSU research team received a support grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue working to understand how Lef1 and other factors work to repair skin.