WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. While it is well known that starfish, zebrafish and salamanders can re-grow damaged limbs, scientists understand very little about the regenerative capabilities of mammals. Now, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine report on the regenerative process that enables rats to re-grow their bladders within eight weeks.
In PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed, online publication, the scientists characterize this unique model of bladder regeneration with the goal of applying what they learn to human patients.
"A better understanding of the regenerative process at the molecular and cellular level is a key to more rapid progress in applying regenerative medicine to help patients," said George Christ, Ph.D., senior researcher and professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist.
In a previous study by Christ's team, research in rats showed that when about 75 percent of the animals' bladders were removed, they were able to regenerate a complete functional bladder within eight weeks. The current study focused on how the regeneration occurs.
"There is very little data on the mechanisms involved in organ regeneration in mammals," said Christ. "To our knowledge, bladder regeneration holds a unique position there is no other mammalian organ capable of this type of regeneration."
The ability of the liver to grow in size when lobes are removed is sometimes referred to as regeneration, but this is a misnomer, said co-author Bryon Petersen, Ph.D., who was a professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist during the period the research occurred. Instead, through a proliferation of cells, the remaining tissue grows to compensate for the lost size. In contrast, the hallmark of true regeneration is following nature's "pattern" to exactly duplicate size, form and function, Petersen said.
"If we can understand the bladder's regenerative process,
|Contact: Karen Richardson|
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center