Imagine someone being rushed to floors of their local Accident and Emergency with a severed hand after an accident and was told by surgeons that the only option was to amputate it as they believe the hand is damaged beyond repair. Instead, they experimented with a special substance on the amputated region and eventually, the hand grew back identically to one which was lost. Cell regeneration is a fascinating topic which could bring hope in the future and revolutionize modern medicine. It’s the process of an organism replacing body parts. It is often seen as a healing process and noted for its ability to regrow amputated limbs, severed nerves, lost organs, eyes and wounds without any scaring. Amphibians such as frogs, newts and salamanders have this ability. I am asking a question on whether scientific invention in future medicine on cell regeneration will make society better or worse? Scientific invention can be created by using technology and science in medicine, physics and chemistry in a way to make us happier, independent, healthier and wealthier and wiser.
Limb regeneration will be a possible treatment in medicine thanks to a process called differentiation which involves the cells wrapping around the wound lose their identity. The cells then transform themselves into a cluster of cells called Blastema. Blastema cells are made up of stem cells which will then revise and transform into the type of cells required for limb growth. Scientists David Gardiner, a research biologist and his Dr Susan Bryant, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California at Irvine have discovered the reason why human beings cannot regenerate body parts like the mentioned species. They believed that the signals in our genes which control the behaviour of limb growth were switched off.
Theories explained that we can regenerate everything including the limbs whilst we were in embryo. If a fetus had an operation which involves going under the knife and is expected to have an incision scar and surprisingly, after the baby is born, the scar which was sited on the region where the incision was made is literally invisible as if it was never had surgery. Unfortunately, soon as we are born, the genetic signals which play the role of limb growth are switched off and instead, the body responds to scarring and once the limb or any other body part is extracted, It will never grow back.
Assumptions explained that we can regenerate 25% of our livers. This is due to unipotency of hepatocytes, the mass of cells, which plays a role in storing protein and transformation of starch into energy and conversion of protein, cholesterol and bile salts by using DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (Ribonucleic acid). Nadia Rosenthal from the Howard Hughes Institute believes we can regenerate our ribs if the membrane, which surrounds the lining of the rib, is still intact. The rib is often used as a bone graft for reconstructive surgery. We can also regenerate blood, bone marrow and the membranes in our stomach and small intestines. Cell regeneration will revolutionise the world of medicine and make life easier for doctors and patients. This will save time of doctors amputating body parts and also save money for patient as prosthesis are quite expensive depending on the brand such as Ossur and Dorset Ortho.
Violence, work related accidents, which involves using machines which are dangerous and malfunctioned, not properly fixed or poor neglegience and car accidents. Diseases such as, cancer and bacterial diseases such as necrotising fascitis and particularly bacterial meningitis, especially its dangerous form meningococal septicaemia with meningitis or alone are responsible for limb loss and other body parts. Although prosthesis and grafting techniques such as nerve grafting, transplanting nerves onto a muscle area such as the chest to help amputees like Jesse Sullivan, a former electrician who lost both arms after he accidentally touched an active cable which contain a voltage of between 7,000 – 7,500 to control the limbs by using his brain. The reality is that the prosthesis will not be good as the ones we are born with and often took for granted.
Prosthetic limbs are required to be worn for a limited amount of time and had to be changed and upgraded annually depending on the growing process of the person. Prosthesis can sometimes have inadequate fitting and unsuitable for some people. Losing a body part or a limb can have a devastating impact on the individual as it will alter their lifestyle and shape their identity and position in a society that is obsessed with perfect body image. The loss of a limb can also have an impact on their families as they have to give up their lifestyles and jobs to take care of them as they cannot do things themselves. Society’s subconscious negative towards disabled people and the obsession of being normal could have an influence on the, emotional and psychological well-being of the individual as it could give them a sense of anger, resentment, guilt, self – pity, numbness, sadness and they could even suffer from depression, self body image and suffer from suicidal thoughts. Although cell regeneration is a fascinating, curious topic, it can have a few downfalls such as the economical estimation of how much funding do scientists need in order to conduct more research and experiments on the possibility of regeneration and the actual cost of actually performing the procedure to the people who need it, especially in societies where healthcare is expensive. In the social aspects, this topic can cause a controversial debate and readers will show ambivalent views
Cell Regeneration is still a new discovery which could bring hope in the future and revolutionise our cultural and scientific eyes on medicine. This medical invention could benefit as it will help people lead normal lives and reinstate back to the normal routine than the routine they had when they were disabled and thus, enable to integrate in society and perceived as normal. On the other hand, it can make society worse because this topic illustrates society’s obsession with aesthetic perfectionism and ignores the message that inner appearance shapes our unique identities rather than our outer appearance. If cell regeneration does come into the light of medicine, it could cause conflict within the social hierarchy meaning, those who are above middle class can afford this extraordinary treatment than those who can’t afford it, thus it could lead to social conflict.
Philipkoski, K, (2006),www.wired.com/medtech/genetics/news/2006/09/071817(15th November 2007) 2
Bryner, J, (2006) How Salamanders sprout new limbs, http://www.livescience.com/animals/071101-newt-limbs.html,1st , 15th November 2007 2
Gardiner, DM, Bryant, SV (DRS), (2006), http://regeneration.bio.uci.edul , 15th November 2007 3
Highfield, R (2005) Doctors seek key to regrowing limbs, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main/jhtml-/news/2005/10/12/nregeneration,12.xml ( 2007), 22nd November 2007
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theenglishman101, (2005) A report on Limb regeneration and the history of research,www.bbc/dna/h2g2/A4084030, 3rd December 2007. 2 + 10