Scientists at the University of Puerto Rico have discovered that sea cucumbers heal better than most animals in the world by directing their healing abilities toward their organs first. Scientists have long known that sea cucumbers belong to an exclusive group of creatures that is capable of both healing their wounds and regenerating parts of their body. The finding is particularly interesting because, contrary to popular belief, sea cucumbers use the same kind of healing that humans do to regenerate and fix their organs. Said Professor Garcia-Arraras of UP, “Many people, including scientists, regard sea cucumbers and other echinoderms like star fish and brittle stars as bizarre, exceptional outcasts because of their regenerative abilities. But we’ve shown that they use the same ‘ordinary’ mechanisms and processes to both regenerate and heal wounds.”
There are some wounds that sea cucumbers cannot heal their way out of…
The scientists first cut a 3-5 mm incision in the cucumbers and then watched them over a 4 week healing period. In that time, a special cell called morula cells moved to the site of the incision and accomplished full healing in a short amount of time.
The study is one piece on a path toward human limb and organ regeneration. “Sea cucumbers will probably provide us with the key to deciphering how to regenerate our tissues, or at least find out what is needed to do this,” said Garcia-Arraras. Easy there on the definitive predictions, Weapon X, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
The University of Puerto Rico experiment has ethical as well as scientific ramifications