African Spiny Mouse May Hold The Key To Scar-Free Healing

By Amir Khan on September 27, 2012 10:25 AM EDT

Spiny Mouse
The key to scar-free healing may have been found, thanks to a small mouse. (Photo: Creative Commons)

The key to scar-free healing may have been found, thanks to a small mouse. The African spiny mouse, which sheds patches of its skin to escape predators, heals without scars, and researchers said the findings could help people heal from wounds and diseases better and cleaner than ever before.

"Mammals have no problem regenerating blood cells or epidermis, or regrowing hair that is plucked out, but following injury, like the severing of a finger, mammals generally just seal off the wound site and produce scar tissue," Ashley Seifert, study author and a regeneration biologist at the University of Florida at Gainesville, told the LiveScience. "Compare that to salamanders, who can regenerate entire pieces of tissue on the sides of their bodies, not to mention arms, legs and their brain."

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The African spiny mouse can shed up to 60 percent of the skin off its back and regrow it quickly -- hair and all. However, their novel healing process doesn't regrow all their skin.

"They use contraction to constrict the wound site so they don't actually have to regenerate much tissue at all," Seifert said. "It is the central portion of this wound, the remaining 5 percent, that they regenerate."

Researchers studied three mice captured in Kenya, and found that their skin is 77 times easier to tear than the skin of a lab mouse, making it easy for them to escape predators. When researchers cut small wounds into the skin of these mice, they found that the wounds healed in three days -- much faster than the seven it took lab mice.

"The fact that these mice can regenerate such large ear holes - 4 millimeters - is surprising to me," Seifert said.

Researchers concluded that mammals may have a higher capacity for healing than previously thought. The intend to study the mice further to figure out what mechanism they use to heal so quickly and see if they can one day use it in humans.

The researchers published the results in the journal Nature.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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