Sea Cucumbers Have Mutant Healing Factor

i-98e268bfab465df8e4a599616e29407c-Sea Cucumber.jpg

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."

i-9d114b50b3cae88e7328122d63d50507-Sea Cucumber, fried.jpg
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.

i-8b962cf748f8c68acf4e615b6c1b7f88-Sea Cucumber, tank.jpg
The University of Puerto Rico experiment has ethical as well as scientific ramifications

More like this

As someone who's spent a heck of a lot of time studying sea cucumbers, I'm the first to know when these critters make the news. It's not because I follow the literature, but rather that everyone who does feels the desire to forward me related articles. Despite that this is an extremely…
The military is investing heavily in labs which are studying genes related to regeneration---specifically, the ability to regenerate limbs and organs. The motivation behind this is clear. As soldiers in Iraq and beyond are surviving wounds that previously would have been fatal, often their injuries…
Image of brittle star by Jerry Kirkhart from Los Osos, Calif. [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons A new study published in Frontiers in Zoology examined the developmental process involved in regulating limb regeneration in brittle stars (Amphiura…
Dr. Gabriele D'Uva is finishing up his postdoctoral research at the Weizmann Institute. Here is his account of three years of highly successful research on regenerating heart cells after injury. Among other things, it is the story of the way that different ideas from vastly different research areas…

Heh, serendipitous of this discovery to come out now, with the release of Bioshock a few weeks ago. There's a mutant sea slug with regenerative properties at the center of the storyline, although it's under layers of dystopic story trope.

Plus, any scientific discovery that puts me *this* much closer to having tele-and-pyro-kinesis gets an A in my book-because that means roasted marshmallows anytime you want, without a stick!

*wins a gold medal for Olympian leaps in logic*

here in the states, it's what we call good times, great oldies!

Thanks Benny! I'm so glad cukes are finally getting the attention they deserve!

Aside from their regenerative abilities, products from these fascinating critters are sold as canine arthritis medication and supposedly have aphrodisiac qualities for humans (though I cannot attest to that). They also secrete a toxin like many echinoderms that I became sensitized to over time. I only had rashes before I changed my research environment, but workers involved in processing plants eventually suffered from respiratory problems.

Why be toxic? Well, adult cucumaria frondosa do not have natural predators for the most part, so their toxicity likely evolved as a means to protect this otherwise sessile, slow moving animal.

sea cumcumbers puke out there organs to protect themselves to
that's a weird way to protect themselves

By the black mage (not verified) on 29 Aug 2009 #permalink