Who said that only Pokémon can fully evolve and regenerate? Imagine that some animals are able to do the same thing in real life! This is especially the case with axolotl, a species of salamander that can completely regenerate entire limbs and even vital organs! Well, researchers made it their business to study the genes of this little creature so that one day humans could do the same …
Axolotl’s genes have been studied very carefully by geneticist Jeremiah Smith and his team. You have done work on axolotl genome sequencing, the first results of which were recently published in the journal PNAS. The study shows that the axolotl, a small tadpole-like creature, has the peculiarity of maintaining a youthful appearance indefinitely and of regenerating itself from severed limbs or damaged organs.
The secret is in the genome …
But how can this creature’s genes perform like this? Jeremiah Smith and colleagues have argued that it is thanks to amazing genomes that date back to the Jurassic. “Salamanders’ large genomes seem to date back to a time in their ancient evolutionary history, perhaps 200 million years ago, when selfish pieces of DNA were able to make multiple copies of themselves and fit into the entire genome,” said Smith.
You should know that selfish DNA refers to a form of DNA that can copy and duplicate itself indefinitely without any negative effects on the organism. Note that in normal times, such a phenomenon affects reproduction, which is not the case with axolotl.
The secret is in the genome … Image credit: Shutterstock / Arm001
Applicable or not at the human level?
These abilities of the axolotl have something to dream about! Imagine if people could do the same! Jeremiah Smith and his team work hard on this very opportunity. “As we improve our understanding of the positions of genes in the genome and the long stretches of DNA between genes, we begin to understand the rules that dictate when and where genes are activated during development, regeneration, and other processes,” he said Smith explains. However, the road to concrete results is still difficult, as human DNA is much more complex than that of axolotl.
“Translate this information to people [est] more difficult […] It is expected that some discrete regulatory elements could be found that could improve the response of cells to injury. It could be possible in our life. In particular, the researchers are considering developing drugs that could, for example, help accelerate the regeneration of injuries and wounds. We can’t wait to see it!