Thursday, June 13, 2013

EEK! Mice With Breakaway Skin!

" 'Scar free healing' in mice may give clues to human skin repair, says study"
James Gallagher, BBC News (September 26, 2012)

"Mice with brittle skin, which tears off in order to escape predators, may offer clues to healing wounds without scarring, according to US researchers.

"Some African spiny mice lost up to 60% of the skin from their backs, says the study published in the journal Nature.

"Unlike wounds in other mammals, the skin then rapidly healed and regrew hairs rather than forming a scar...."

Some critters, like salamanders, can regrow limbs. Mammals regrow scar tissue: handy for quick repairs, not so good as a replacement part. These oddball mice are an exception, at least where skin is involved.

The good news is that scientists may be able to figure out how the African spiny mice grow new skin, and develop ways for mammals to grow other sorts of tissue.

The bad news, sort of, is that someone will probably get upset about the process. Those mice look cute, and might not like losing skin from their backs: which the Lemming is concerned about; but learning how to regrow lost limbs or damaged organs would be nice, too. There's a balance, somewhere, between the welfare of mice and people. There are knee-jerk responses to new ideas, too: and that's another topic.

The Lemming found a rather detailed and boring discussion about the spiny mice on the NIH website:

More:Vaguely-related posts:


Brigid said...

I'm more interesting in how they lose their skin without the wound becoming infected. Especially since the last time I heard about mice regrowing parts the scientists involved accomplished it in part by turning off part of the critters' immune systems.

kelechukwu said...

welcome to lions den

Brian Gill said...

Good points, Brigid. The resources I found didn't go into that. My guess is that there's a microbe-resistant film left in place.

But that's a guess.

(Wow - took me long enough to respond!)

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