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posted Dec 1, 2014, 9:58 AM by   [ updated Sep 12, 2017, 9:58 PM by Upali Salpadoru ]

Fig.1 Hydras have an amazing ability to re generate.
   It was only a few months back that a nurse (in Sri Lanka) accidentally chopped off a baby's finger  There was a big fuss by the people and the press; some even demanded the resignation of the Minister. of Health.  Although everybody criticized the act and bent on punitive measures, nobody thought of any concrete action towards the amelioration of the injured. The hospital concerned may have just bandaged the finger and discharged the child. The media forgot the incident in a few days. There was no news of any special help towards the healing of the baby’s finger.

     We are awakened to this incident by an on-line news item “A Hobby Store owner sliced off his finger tip. The doctor recommended a skin graft. His brother who happened to be working in a tissue re-generating clinic told him to forego the skin graft and instead apply a powdered extract to the injured fingertip. Months later, he had grown new tissue, nerves, skin and even the finger nail.”

     Regeneration or the power of growing part of an injured organ   is a well-known process to biologists and the specialists in the medical field. This ability is quite common   in certain animals as Hydra, Salamander rand some kind of Mice. Human beings also show this ability in the ribs and the liver. In mammals, the fetus shows remarkable ability to re-grow any injured part. Dr. Stephen Badylac of U. of Pittsberg reports that children up to the age of two have been known to re-grow finger tips. We are unable to understand why this process was not attempted on this poor innocent child.

   The ‘Extra Cellular Matrix’, (ECM) applied on the man’s finger, according to the news item, had been taken from a pig. This substance is supposed to be present between the cells of animals. “It holds the signals that direct cells to divide. Differentiate and build themselves into a specific form” It probably converts adult cells into stem cells. These stem cells grow into the required organ.

   Human fetuses have this substance and they are quite rich in stem cells. This gives the clue for their special ability for re generation. The scientists were under the impression that this substance does not work on adults.  With this evidence they are hoping to grow not only finger tips but to re generate a complete leg or an arm.

   ECM is used by veterinarians to help horses to repair torn ligaments. In people it is used to treat ulcers and to close a hole in the tissue that lines the stomach.

   When a finger is cut, the exposed cells die. Their contents seep into the tissue. This triggers the immune system which forms a scar to cover the wound.  This cover prevents any kind of re generation. In the presence of ECM the cells divide and form new tissue instead of a scar.

   Future studies in Re generation science, combined with stem treatment may bring immense benefit to human beings. Crutches and artificial limbs may become museum exhibits.

   So, if there is an Organization or a Medical Expert specializing in this field it would be their duty to make an attempt to re grow the Baby’s fingertip.

   [This article was published in the ISLAND  paper in Sri Lanka. On  3/4/2007]