Breakthrough medical research could utilize oxygen blasts to regenerate human limbs

Breakthrough medical research could utilize oxygen blasts to regenerate human limbs

Truth be told, there is a countless list of amazing feats that occur in nature we, as a species, have yet to truly comprehend. For centuries humans have long been trying to replicate some of the more amazing accomplishments Mother Nature rightfully boasts over us.

One of the more amazing achievements that occur in nature has to do with the nimble gecko and the elegant sea star, which can partially regenerate their tails and  limbs respectively. Of course, salamanders go one better and are able to regenerate whole limbs. Even humans, to some degree, are able to regenerate damaged livers (partially) or even the tips of our fingers. Now, according to Science Daily, a new study conducted by the Tulane University shows  it might actually be possible to promote limb regrowth to levels akin to salamanders by utilizing the very air we breathe.

The Department of Defense-funded study shows that when severed bone is exposed to high levels of oxygen the bone will undergo regrowth. Leading the study is Tulane University’s Mimi Sammarco who found that any bone growth in humans must be triggered in order to activate the type of genes that can stimulate the kind of regenerative growth seen in salamanders.

“What it boils down to is genes (that spur regeneration) don’t just turn themselves on. They turn on because something signals them. So I thought, maybe it’s oxygen that’s turning them on,” Sammarco said in a release for the study. “Oxygen is often the primary signal that turns on various genes.”

To test this, Sammarco and the team at Tulane have been experimenting with samples of bone and exposing them to high levels of oxygen.”What we found is that when you expose regenerating bone to 20 percent oxygen, it’ll respond very favorably but only at a certain time. If you try it too early, like right after amputation, it doesn’t do a whole lot.”

Sammarco and the team’s main focus for the regenerative research centers on the battlefield and the countless soldiers that lose their limbs in combat as well as those suffering from diabetes  and other accidents that have led to limb loss. For now, it at least looks like high levels of oxygen shows promise in “turning on” the requisite genes to promote partial regrowth, but since timing proves vital — and getting soldiers to safety during the heat of battle brings forth its own complications —  challengers still impede the level of success and regeneration Sammarco is aiming for. 

And the problem will only continue to grow worse:  “One out of every 200 Americans is an amputee,” Sammarco explains. “This number is expected to double in the next 40 years and is of particular concern given that amputation injuries have increased considerably due to combat casualties and the increasing amputation issues associated with the rise in diabetes and other related diseases.”

Unfortunately, it looks like it will be a long wait until the day we see entire limbs regenerated. At best we can expect to see doctors regrow limbs partially, and most likely only enough to see about an inch or two of growth, but according to Sammarco  — even now — that can make all the difference until medical technology allows for maximum growth. 

[Image credit: Dim Dimich/Shutterstock]

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Get caught up on all things 'Fallout 76,' including recent controversies

Bethesda's Fallout 76 takes the open world series in a new direction. With an emphasis on co-op, survival, and rebuilding a broken world, Fallout 76 is a far different game than its predecessors.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.