Researchers have new hope to help people with skin problems after discovering that a certain mouse can grow skin fast and as good as new.
A mouse species often kept as exotic pets can regenerate lost skin, according to a new study. The discovery could help understand how to create new tissue generation treatments for humans.
It is well known among pet collectors and researchers that the tail skin of African spiny mouse Acomys tear easily if you pull on it. The feature is a convenient way for the mouse to escape predators that catch it by the tail.
New research published on Wednesday, in the journal Nature, revealed something surprising: not only does the skin on the tail rip off fast, but it also grows back, and it looks like new. When the researchers looked to see whether this regenerative capacity called autotomy spreads to the skin of the rest of the body, they found that it did.
So how does the mouse do it?
To find out, the researchers first wanted to know what was different in the skin of this mouse. When they tested the skin, they found that it rips easily, almost like a sheet of paper. In fact, 77 times less energy is required to tear the skin of this mouse over the common house mouse you can find in your kitchen snacking on some cheese.
Not only does the skin tear easily, but it could rip at any body part. Unlike salamanders, whose tails are shed and regenerated at predefined points, mouse skin was prickly, like our skin, a continuous sheet.
This seemingly problematic feature actually helps mice, but only because their skin grows back quickly. Surprisingly, large tears in the skin are repaired within 30 days. Not only does the skin grow back, but the hair follicles of the skin grow back too, and in the right color. It does not take long for the injured mouse to look as good as new.