Two studies using mice, in the UK and US, have revealed new ways to heal injuries without leaving scars.
Research at EARA member the University of Manchester, UK, found that ‘switching off’ small RNA molecules, called microRNAs, led to better skin healing than usual in mice with injuries.
These microRNAs are already known to be important in the early stages of wound healing, but by analysing mice, the team showed that the success of their approach may be because switching off the RNAs means they no longer block the action of the particular protein that is required to restore the normal structure of the skin.
Meanwhile, a US study at the University of Kentucky and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Ohio, looked at spiny mice – a rodent that is increasingly being used in regeneration research – to better understand how to regrow lost skin.
The team showed that specific immune cells in the spiny mice release proteins that contribute to the growth of new vessels and tissue, partly explaining how this species can heal injuries without forming scars, unlike standard mice.
Researcher Jennifer Simkin, at Kentucky, said: “This study aims to unlock the body’s natural potential to regenerate after traumatic injury. To do this, we study animals that can regenerate multiple tissues.. after injury to find the cellular and molecular signals necessary for better healing.”