Frequently Asked Questions

Regeneration FAQs

Please email questions you have about limb regeneration that we have not already answered on the website. We will respond here for others to read and get more specific information (we will not include your name).
Question: … I’m an …amputee that lost his foot to a rare cancer tumor. I’m an … athlete who went from active to not active …Yea I can run and ski but its not the same. I miss having two feet while others take it for granted…am curious about limb regeneration and hoping I will see it some day. Any information?? A prosthetic is just a hassle and I wish things were like they were.
Response: I do believe there will be a day when we are able to regenerate limbs. If I did not believe this, I would not be working as hard as I am to see this happen. There are a number of encouraging findings, and I do not know of any data in the scientific literature that would indicate it is not possible. The issue is one of how long it will take, which is the same as how many people are working on the problem, which is the same as how much money will it take. Again, i am very encouraged here. There has been a dramatic increase in interest in the research community for working on problems related to regeneration (including stem cells). Many more people are beginning to address these issues and more money is being spent, but it will take time. At this point, I am not aware of any therapies that are available for inducing limb regeneration in a mammal. The first breakthroughs would come from studies in the mouse, and they would lead to human clinical trials. Given the amount of time involved in this process, it would take a couple of years from the time that such a therapy became available. There simply is no way at this point to reliably predict when such a therapy might be developed. I wish I could tell you that it will be any day now. However, there is no evidence at this time to support that statement. People are working on it and there is an increasingly strong voice demanding that research in regenerative therapies be moved forward as fast as possible.
Question: I have been spending all my spare time researching the many theories of limb regeneration, I have been very interested in the work by Dr. Robert Becker he looked at the subject from a totally different point of view. I believe his work to be the missing link between human and amphibians. I would like to provide you with a link I find to the very interesting Some other thoughts I have, one related to the work by of Robert O. Young. He believes that a ph balanced body is a healthy one. He has helped people recover from many health problems!
Response: There is a large body of literature on the effects of electrical currents on a variety of biological processes, including regeneration. This area of research is not as active today as it was a couple of decades ago. Although the magnitude and polarity of electrical fields and currents is correlated with many biological events, it has often been difficult to establish a cause and effect relationship. In some cases such as fertilization, these ion fluxes clearly are of functional significance. In contrast, although there are ion fluxes when the skin is injured (e.g. limb amputation), it may that they are a consequence of injury but not a cause of regenerative healing. The problem that was never overcome was being able to directly test the function of electrical currents at the tissue level. Treatments (mostly pharmacological) that block ion transport also block electrical currents and also inhibit regeneration. However they also are extremely non-physiological and typically cytotoxic, so it does not appear that they have a specific regulatory function in these experimental situations. This is not to say that they are not important, just that the evidence for such is weak. At the same time, we do have abundant evident for short range cell- cell communication involving molecular interactions at the cell surface, rather than electrical currents, as important regulators of the response to injury leading to scar-free wound healing and regeneration.
Question: Another thought I have is that creatures that swim in water or come into contact with the earth with a larger area of the body are likely to be more grounded. We as humans have very little contact with the earth this builds up an electric charge in out body that is not present in something that is in constant contact with a conductive liquid or the earth. Obviously they are not the only factors in human limb regeneration but they are factors that to me seem as if they may be contributing to the human in-ability to regenerate.

Response: People have often noted that many animals that can regenerate are also aquatic. This would include the axolotl that we work on, since it never
completely metamorphosis and remains aquatic throughout life. However, this appears to be only a correlation and there is no evidence that being aquatic is required for or influences regenerative ability since there are many terrestrial salamanders that can regenerate just fine.