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African Spiny Mouse's Skin-Shedding Ability May Hold Key To Regeneration Of Body Parts

A mouse that escapes predators by shedding patches of its skin may shed light on regeneration and could lead to research that one day helps people heal from wounds and disease, scientists say.

Humans and other mammals are generally very limited when it comes to regeneration, but one mammal, the African spiny mouse, can heal wounds much faster than lab mice can, which drew the attention of Ashley Seifert, a regeneration biologist at the University of Florida at Gainesville.

"Mammals have no problem regenerating blood cells or epidermis, or regrowing hair that is plucked out," Seifert said, "but following injury, like the severing of a finger, mammals generally just seal off the wound site and produce scar tissue.

"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," Seifert told LiveScience.

Furthermore, in mammals, "in general, the ability to regenerate also declines with age," Seifert said. "Newborn humans can actually regenerate a very small piece of the fingertip, but this ability is lost during childhood development."

Given the general limits of mammals when it comes to regeneration, Seifert was fascinated by tales of the African spiny mouse. While vigorous movement could peel off up to 60 percent of the skin off the backs of these rodents, they could quickly heal these wounds and regrow spiny hairs that covered the lost skin. [10 Amazing Animal Abilities]

Seifert clarified these rodents do not regrow all their lost skin. "They use contraction to constrict the wound site so they don't actually have to regenerate much tissue at all," he explained. "It is the central portion of this wound, the remaining 5 percent, that they regenerate."

To learn more about how these rodents accomplish such regeneration, Seifert and his colleagues investigated live specimens of two species of African spiny mouse (Acomys kempi andAcomys percivali) captured over the course of three years from rocky outcroppings in central Kenya.

Analysis of spiny mouse skin revealed it was 20 times weaker than the skin of lab mice, requiring 77 times less energy to tear. This breakaway skin likely helps spiny mice escape the clutches of predators such as snakes, owls and eagles, Seifert said.

When the researchers cut small wounds in the skin of these rodents, new layers of tissue that would later go on to become skin grew quickly over the injured areas, covering wounds 0.2 inches (4 millimeters) across after three days, compared with the five to seven days it took lab mice to do the same. Damaged ears with holes punched in them even regenerated hair follicles and cartilage without scarring.

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

Healing wounds in spiny mice apparently deposit collagen fibers that form scars far more slowly and in lower abundances than in lab mice. Wounded ears also grew masses of cells similar to blastemas, transient structures used by animals such as salamander to rebuild missing tissues. "It is thought that one of the main constraints on regenerating appendages in humans ? or other mammals, for that fact ?is the failure to form a blastema," Seifert said.

These findings suggest that mammals might retain a higher capacity for regeneration than is believed. Seifert now wants to figure out what molecular mechanisms these spiny mice use to instruct blastema-like structures to form.

The scientists detailed their findings in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Nature.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/27/african-spiny-mouse-skin-shedding-regeneration-body_n_1918809.html

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Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.

The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. 

The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.

A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.

The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.

An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.


Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society


The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.


Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning  bodily life. Such technologies will  greatly enlarge  the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make  all  kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.


Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness  with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness  onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of  cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence,  expand human capabilities  and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times.  The final result  at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.


This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!  Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.

Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots  will become affordable  and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however:  humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover,  prerequisites for a large-scale  expansion into outer space will be created as well.


Key elements of the project in the future

• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of  the project of "Immortality”.

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