A Tale of Two…TAILS?

Regeneration – it’s a TAIL as old as time! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science 

Lucky lizards! If they lose a tail, they just grow another one! But these replacement tails aren’t as good as new — they’re actually SPINELESS! Could we help lizards regrow PERFECT tails? 

Enter Thomas Lozito and team from the University of Southern California. 

They compared the regrowth of an adult lizard tail to the development of a baby tail. The difference? Adult stem cells ONLY make cartilage cells. Baby stem cells make cartilage AS WELL AS bone and nerve cells! 

To build the perfect tail, the researchers collected baby lizard stem cells. They used gene tools to prevent these baby stem cells from making cartilage. Next, they injected the edited baby cells into adult lizard tail stumps. 

Results? All ten lizards grew a PERFECT bony tail! 

This study helps scientists better understand regeneration inside the human body! This knowledge could be used to help treat loss of a limb or spinal cord injuries.

Need another hand? IGUANA grow a new one! 

Reference: Lozito, T. P., Londono, R., Sun, A. X., & Hudnall, M. L. (2021). Introducing dorsoventral patterning in adult regenerating lizard tails with gene-edited embryonic neural stem cells. Nature Communications, 12(1), 6010. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26321-9