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Old March 25th, 2008, 10:16 PM
BlackBat242 BlackBat242 is offline
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Default Regeneration Science

Now we know why there is little on Bionic research & medical prosthetic work in the original Traveller game... and similarly, nothing on transplants or cloning.

They are unnecessary, as Solomani medical technology provides for complete regeneration of all wounds... even amputations. Similarly, a damaged organ is simply regenerated "en-corpus" (so to speak).

Interesting Scientific American article:

March 17, 2008
Regrowing Limbs: Can People Regenerate Body Parts?

Progress on the road to regenerating major body parts, salamander-style, could transform the treatment of amputations and major wounds
By Ken Muneoka, Manjong Han and David M. Gardiner

A salamander’s limbs are smaller and a bit slimier than those of most people, but otherwise they are not that different from their human counterparts. The salamander limb is encased in skin, and inside it is composed of a bony skeleton, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels. A loose arrangement of cells called fibroblasts holds all these internal tissues together and gives the limb its shape.

Yet a salamander’s limb is unique in the world of vertebrates in that it can regrow from a stump after an amputation. An adult salamander can regenerate a lost arm or leg this way over and over again, regardless of how many times the part is amputated. Frogs can rebuild a limb during tadpole stages when their limbs are first growing out, but they lose this ability in adulthood. Even mammalian embryos have some ability to replace developing limb buds, but that capacity also disappears well before birth. Indeed, this trend toward declining regenerative capacity over the course of an organism’s development is mirrored in the evolution of higher animal forms, leaving the lowly salamander as the only vertebrate still able to regrow complex body parts throughout its lifetime.

Humans have long wondered how the salamander pulls off this feat. How does the regrowing part of the limb “know” how much limb is missing and needs to be replaced? Why doesn’t the skin at the stump form a scar to seal off the wound as it would in humans? How can adult salamander tissue retain the embryonic potential to build an entire limb from scratch multiple times? Biologists are closing in on the answers to those questions. And if we can understand how the regeneration process works in nature, we hope to be able to trigger it in people to regenerate amputated limbs, for example, and transform the healing of other major wounds.

The human body’s initial responses to such a serious injury are not that different from those of a salamander, but soon afterward the human and amphibian wound-healing strategies diverge. Ours results in a scar and amounts to a failed regeneration response, but several signs indicate that humans do have the potential to rebuild complex parts. The key to making that happen will be tapping into our latent abilities so that our own wound healing becomes more salamanderlike. For this reason, our research first focused on the experts to learn how it is done.

Lots of technical explanations removed due to post-length limits. Read the article for the full text.

Potential at Our Fingertips

One of the most encouraging signs that human limb regeneration is a feasible goal is the fact that our fingertips already have an intrinsic ability to regenerate. This observation was made first in young children more than 30 years ago, but since then similar findings have been reported in teenagers and even adults. Fostering regeneration in a fingertip amputation injury is apparently as simple as cleaning the wound and covering it with a simple dressing. If allowed to heal naturally, the fingertip restores its contour, fingerprint and sensation and undergoes a varying degree of lengthening. The success of this conservative treatment of fingertip amputation injuries has been documented in medical journals thousands of times. Interestingly, the alternative protocol for such injuries typically included operating to suture a skin flap over the amputation wound, a “treatment” that we now know will inhibit regeneration even in the salamander because it interferes with formation of the wound epidermis. The profound message in these reports is that human beings have inherent regenerative capabilities that, sadly, have been suppressed by some of our own traditional medical practices.

It is not easy to study how natural human fingertip regeneration works because we cannot go around amputating fingers to do experiments, but the same response has been demonstrated in both juvenile and adult mice by several researchers. In recent years two of us (Muneoka and Han) have been studying the mouse digit-tip regeneration response in more detail. We have determined that a wound epidermis does form after digit-tip amputation, but it covers the regenerating wound much more slowly than occurs in the salamander. We have also shown that during digit-tip regeneration, important embryonic genes are active in a population of undifferentiated, proliferating cells at the wound site, indicating that they are blastema cells. And indirect evidence suggests that they are derived from fibroblasts residing in the interstitial connective tissues and in bone marrow.

more of technical explanations removed.

The Human Challenge

The idea of regenerating a human limb may still seem more like fantasy than a plausible possibility, but with insights such as those we have been describing, we can evaluate in a logical stepwise manner how it might happen. An amputated human limb results in a large and complex wound surface that transects a number of different tissues, including epidermis, dermis and interstitial connective tissue, adipose tissue, muscle, bone, nerve and vasculature. Looking at those different tissue types individually, we find that most of them are actually very capable of regenerating after a small-scale injury.

In fact, the one tissue type within a limb that lacks regenerative ability is the dermis, which is composed of a heterogeneous population of cells, many of which are fibroblasts—the same cells that play such a pivotal role in the salamander regeneration response. After an injury in humans and other mammals, these cells undergo a process called fibrosis that “heals” wounds by depositing an unorganized network of extracellular matrix material, which ultimately forms scar tissue. The most striking difference between regeneration in the salamander and regenerative failure in mammals is that mammalian fibroblasts form scars and salamander fibroblasts do not. That fibrotic response in mammals not only hampers regeneration but can be a very serious medical problem unto itself, one that permanently and progressively harms the functioning of many organs, such as the liver and heart, in the aftermath of injury or disease.


Now, as we watch a salamander grow back an arm, we are no longer quite as mystified by how it happens. Soon humans might be able to harness this truly awesome ability ourselves, replacing damaged and diseased body parts at will, perhaps indefinitely.
"If there are Gods, they do not help, and Justice belongs to the strong; but know that all things done before the naked stars are remembered." Klingon proverb
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Old March 26th, 2008, 07:07 AM
Icosahedron Icosahedron is offline
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Interesting stuff. Maybe there's hope for our grandchildren - provided we're not forced to seal wounds to protect them from the bactericide-resistant bugs we've created by our negligence...

In Traveller, cyberwear might still find a use if it improves upon the original part's performance. IMTU I restrict it with public opinion, as for psionics.
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