Unlocking Immortality

The Immortal Deadpool
DeadPool (c) dunklesan1,    CC BY-SA 3.0

Everyday our bodies are constantly repairing and regrowing parts of our tissues and organs; hair regrows after you cut it, new skin cells are made to replace the old ones, and repair wounds. However, those are very minor things compared to what we see in superhero movies. For example in the X-Men, Wolverine is unfazed by the many bullets that strike him, and in Deadpool, the main character is able to regrow his hand in the amount it takes a normal human to heal from a small cut. Believe it or not, the advanced healing that many superheros posses may become reality in the near future, as new research suggests humans are capable of advanced regeneration.

The research on enhanced healing was brought into the light by accident, during a cancer experiment on mice to be exact: “In order to properly identify his test creatures, Mr Daley had to bore holes in their ears. Frustratingly, these wounds healed quickly. Mr Daley then tried something else: cutting off the tips of their toes. This time, the toes kept growing back – and all in a matter of a few days.”[1] The reason behind why this was possible lies in one gene, known as Lin28a. This gene is present in all animals, but it disappears shortly after they are born. The mice that were used in the experiment were modified so that gene stayed switched on, that’s why they were able to heal so quickly.

Does the secret behind us becoming superheros lie in one gene? I think that it is a place to start, but much more research is needed before we all become Wolverine. The Lin28a gene only speeds up the time needed to heal an injury. It only works on wounds that your body could already heal. So if someone were to get their arm cut off, it would not miraculously grow back. Another limit on this gene is based if a vital organ is damaged. For example, if your lungs stopped working, I think that even with Lin28a you would die before that organ could heal. Even if we were able to heal from any physical damage, humans would still have to battle diseases. We can not live forever until we find a way to become immune to all sicknesses.

Humans are a long way from becoming superheros, but the discovery of the Lin28a gene is a step in the right direction, and a step closer to unlocking immortality.

Work Cited:                                                                                                        Logarta, Michael. “Scientists discover gene for advanced healing and limb regeneration.” 9 Nov 2013. GMA News Online. 2018. GMA Network Inc. 11 Nov 2018. <http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/scitech/science/334725/scientists-discover-gene-for-advanced-healing-and-limb-regeneration/story/ >.

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