Right Turn: All about regeneration – navigating fact and fiction

Author: Erin Sugar, 08/08/14

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The following scene from Family Guy offers a glimpse into both the tone and subject matter of this week’s Right Turn.

Being an avid lover of superheroes, monsters and all things supernatural, the topic of healing and limb regeneration has always been a subject I find vastly exciting. If you’re having trouble understanding what exactly this form of regeneration entails, try picturing some of the following iconic superhero characters who are all endowed with the ability to heal quickly, ranging from the Hulk, Claire Bennet from the TV show Heroes, and the genetically enhanced heart-throb Captain America. And then there is the not-so-dreamy Hydra (the three headed monster from Hercules with unlimited head-regeneration capacities).

While the characters mentioned above are obviously products of the imagination, the reality of this scientific field is not so far from existence. The main challenge is recognizing the ideas that hold potential and those that are doomed to failure. In the spirit of blurring the line between fact and fancy, I have included below two articles of varying accuracy.  So put on your trench coat and grab your magnifying glass, because I’m leaving it to you to sleuth your way through this one!

Article 1: From the Journal of Superhero Mutational Science comes this lengthy article titled “Howlett: Novel Wolverine protein contributes to rapid regeneration and heightened cellular reproduction,” authored by Sigrid Alvarez, Emma Conway, Leonard Foster, Scott Summers and Charles Xavier. In it, the authors examine the regenerative capacity of Wolverine’s “Healing Factor.” Click here to read more.

Article 2: Michael Levin, of Tufts University, exemplifies the importance of looking to tadpoles, four-headed flatworms and electricity for inspiration in this engaging article about his life and research titled “Could this man hold the secret to human regeneration?”

Our regular feature, Right Turn, showcases the “lighter” side of stem cells and regenerative medicine. Every Friday, we will bring you cartoons, photos, videos and other content that may be just as thought provoking as the written submissions that you are used to finding here, but they definitely won’t be blogs.

As always, we welcome your feedback and we also welcome suitable submissions. Be creative! Use the right (!) side of your brain. Make us laugh! Let’s see if we can make this new direction a positive one for all of us. Send your submission to info(at)ccrm.ca.

 

 

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Erin Sugar

Erin Sugar

Erin Sugar has returned to the land of business savvy scientists once more as a communications coordinator at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM). A recent BAH English Literature graduate from Queen’s University, Erin is on a mission to integrate herself fully into the stem cell and regenerative medicine (RM) community by scouring the deepest and darkest corners of the web. Here to make sure you are not left in the dark about the lighter side of RM news and culture, Erin delivers Right Turns that satisfy the most multifarious of cravings. You can reach Erin at erin.sugar@ccrm.ca
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