To understand why some animals recover lost tissues after injury, Osnabrück University and the University of Kentucky researched spiny mice, which have a remarkable regenerative capacity.

These mice and typical laboratory mice, which scar after injury, were compared and regulated to find that ERK signalling is a key molecular switch between scarring and regeneration.

The findings suggest that clinical manipulation of ERK signalling could accelerate human regeneration. Scarring causes 50% of deaths.

ERK Signaling Switches Scarring and Regeneration.

Why do certain animals recover injured tissues while others don’t? To answer this question, researchers from the labs of Kerstin Bartscherer (Osnabrück University and formerly Hubrecht Institute) and Ashley Seifert (University of Kentucky) analyzed spiny mice, which have amazing regenerating capacity. These mice and typical laboratory mice, which scar after injury, were compared and regulated.

ERK signaling controls scarring and regeneration. This work, published in Science Advances, suggests that modulating ERK signaling may accelerate regeneration in clinical settings.

Scarring causes 50% of deaths. Limited bodily regeneration causes scarring. Permanent scars can damage organs and cause organ failure. Some animals can repair most of their organs without scarring. These animals can teach humans to regenerate.

Scarring Isn’t Spiny

Spiny mice were researched. Spiny mice are linked to lab mice. Despite their close relationship, spiny mice can repair complex tissues better than lab mice.

We use small ear punches to injure the two mice species to explore this. Antonio Tomasso, the study’s first author, says the spiny mouse’s ear hole heals in a month, but the laboratory mouse’s doesn’t. Then they compared damage responses molecularly.

The study found that the ERK signaling pathway regulates scarring and regeneration. After damage, spiny mice engage this system to regenerate tissue. In ordinary laboratory mice, ERK signaling pathway inhibition causes scarring.

This work could lead to new scarring and regeneration treatments. Humans may regenerate and avoid scarring by regulating the ERK signaling system. Researchers are searching for medicines that trigger the ERK signaling system in humans to develop scarring disease treatments.

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