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Humans could soon regrow limbs, predict date of death

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor   |   01 December 2016   |   2:20 am
University of Washington Biology Professor, Billie Swalla

University of Washington Biology Professor, Billie Swalla

•Worm DNA may unlock secret to superhuman regenerative abilities
• Religion stimulates brain like sex, drugs, researchers find

Scientists have recorded major breakthroughs in the quest for longer and healthier lives.

Scientists plan to unlock the mutant’s healing powers that will allow damaged or cut off limbs regrow, for everyone – using the Deoxy ribonucleic Acid (DNA)/genetic material of a humble worm.

According to a report published in DailyMailUK Online, researchers from the University of Washington, United States (U.S.), found that acorn worms can regrow every body part, including the head, nervous system, and internal organs, from nothing.

If the worms’ self-healing genetic code is deciphered, tissue from a human amputee could be collected and the genes from those tissues activated to trigger regeneration.

A tissue graft could then be fused onto the amputee’s severed limb and the arm or leg would regrow to normal size.

“I really think we as humans have the potential to regenerate, but something isn’t allowing that to happen,” explains senior author and University of Washington Biology Professor Billie Swalla.

“I believe humans have these same genes, and if we can figure out how to turn on these genes, we can regenerate.”

Regeneration can be seen in many animal lineages, but invertebrates like humans, it is mostly seen in amphibians and fish. Humans can regrow parts of organs and skin cells to some degree, but we have lost the ability to regenerate complete body parts.

Also, scientists have found a way to predict the risk of immediate death. They discovered a marker in the blood that detects the building blocks of cancer, chronic heart disease and a range of other serious conditions.

Experts say the new blood test is far more accurate in assessing the risk of death than other previous methods.

A team of international researchers collected data from between 1997 and 1999 on 6,545 men aged between 45 and 69. Participants were followed until 2015 to see if they had died. They looked at markers of inflammation, including the new method – interluekin-6 (IL-6). The other two markers were: C-reactive protein (CRP) and α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP).

Previous research had found the latter to be the strongest predictor of death within five years.

But the new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that IL-6 was a more accurate measurement.

Lead researcher Professor Archana Singh-Manoux, from University College London, said they technologies are “exciting”.

“Research on biomarkers is progressing fast, and it is important to undertake checks like in the one in our study, to shape future research,” he added.

Also, according to a new study religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in the same way as more hedonistic pursuits such as taking drugs, gambling and listening to music.


Researchers found spiritual feelings stimulated the nucleus accumbens – a brain region associated with processing reward and which is known to play a role in addiction.

The study was published in the journal Social Neuroscience.

Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine, set out to determine which brain networks are involved in representing spiritual feelings in one group – devout Mormons – by creating an environment that triggered participants to ‘feel the spirit.’

The team performed fMRI scans on 19 young adult church members while the volunteers performed four tasks to try and evoke spiritual feelings, as part of the ‘Religious Brain Project’.

The hour-long session included resting, watching control and stimulating religious videos, including a video of Biblical scenes, quotations by Mormon and other religious leaders, the reading of familiar passages from The Book of Mormon and eight minutes of quotations .

During the quotations part of the experiment, the participants were asked ‘Are you feeling the spirit’ and were asked to gauge their response from ‘not feeling’ to “very strongly feeling”.

The volunteers reported feeling peaceful and warm inside and some were in tears by the end of the scan when they felt a peak spiritual feeling when watching the “stimulating” church video.


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Billie SwallaDNALimbs


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