Monday, February 19, 2007

Regenerating fingers and limbs

This is the first of several posts I want to write today. There is a lot of good stuff in the news of late and I want to give each subject it’s own post. Consider yourself warned!

Last week, I posted a short piece here about scientists discovering methods to make the spine regenerate in rats. In a related story, some other scientists are working on
digit and, in the future, limb regeneration.

An extract of pig’s bladder is marketed by a company named Acell Inc, which is used to regrow ligaments in horses, and is also now approved by the federal government for use on people. This compound has already been successfully used to regenerate the fingertip on a man who was involved in an accident with a table saw.

Further, there are anomalies in nature that defy human understanding. Salamenders can regrow limbs and a particular breed of mouse can heal itself. Scientists are studying these animals to learn the genetics involved and if these can be used in the future to help humans heal.

These medical advances offer potential that has before been unthinkable. They present hope for some restoration for people who have damaged or missing appendages or limbs. And, that is only the near future prospects. When examining the potential research that can branch off from these findings, the potential advances are even more encouraging.

According to the Associated Press article:
“The implications for regrowing fingers go beyond the cosmetic. People who are missing all or most of their fingers, as from an explosion or a fire, often can't pick things up, brush their teeth or button a button. If they could grow even a small stub, it could make a huge difference in their lives.”

“And the lessons learned from studying regrowth of fingers and limbs could aid the larger field of regenerative medicine, perhaps someday helping people replace damaged parts of their hearts and spinal cords, and heal wounds and burns with new skin instead of scar tissue.”

While this news may not be necessarily central to providing service to people with disabilities, it is, nonetheless, encouraging for a particular segment of the DSS population. I offer it here on Access Ability as an informational conduit for these people.

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