Super-healer mouse

Over a decade ago, Ellen Heber-Katz made an accidental discovery. Heber-Katz was conducting an experiment into the effects of a drug and she marked the mice that had received it by punching a small hole in their ear. However, the holes were sealing up with astonishing speed -- with no sign of scarring. "The markings we'd made had all
disappeared," says Katz. "I thought, 'Oh my God, this is absolutely incredible. I have to find out what caused it.'"

Heber-Katz, an immunologist at the Wistar Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program, examines the role of immune response in regeneration while trying to find out what molecules are expressed. Her research focuses on the unusual regenerative capabilities of MRL, or "super healer," mice. She is trying to induce a similar immune
response in other mice.

MRL mice wound sites are remarkable. Besides a lack of scarring after regrowth, new hair follicles and cartilage also grow back. Heber-Katz works with two geneticists on her team to map genes in both MRL and non-regenerative mice, in an attempt to identify which genes are
important for healing. The team looks at what proteins are being expressed.

Translating the natural mechanisms responsible for regeneration into synthetic compounds that will induce and regulate regeneration is the next step.











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