May 28, 2012
-- The May issue of the journal called Developmental Dynamics has brought another compelling revelation, biologists in Tufts University have found out self-repairing mechanism by organisms in relation to head and facial abnormalities.
The study using developing organisms wasn’t really genetically prepared however it was more of a compensation and adjustment. The researchers used a tadpole model with the set of pre-determined cell movements which lead to normal facial features. They saw that cell groups were able to measure their shape and positioning based on the other organs.
According to Michael Levin Ph, D, the senior researcher and director of the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology in Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences said, "A big question has always been, how do complex shapes like the face or the whole embryo put themselves together? We have found that when we created defects in the face experimentally, facial structures move around in various ways and mostly end up in their correct positions. This suggests that what the genome encodes ultimately is a set of dynamic, flexible behaviors by which the cells are able to make adjustments to build specific complex structures. If we could learn how to bioengineer systems that reliably self-assembled and repaired deviations from the desired target shape, regenerative medicine, robotics, and even space exploration would be transformed."
Researchers have already known that there are already self-correcting mechanisms for other embryonic processes, however there’s not one in the face. Laura Vandenberg PhD, another researcher said "What was missing from previous studies - and to our knowledge had never been done in an animal model - was to precisely track those changes over time and quantitatively compare them."
They have tested it with tadpoles and it brought about a surprising result. The team said, "We were quite astounded to see that, long before they underwent metamorphosis and became frogs, these tadpoles had normal looking faces. Imagine the implications of an animal with a severe 'birth defect' that, with time alone, can correct that defect."
When asked for his opinion, Dr. Brent Moelleken of http://drbrent.com/
, a renowned plastic surgeon said, “It’s one good discovery which will define the future of plastic surgery. Let’s just entrust the works to the hard working people.”
In the end, Levin concluded, "Such understanding would have huge implications not only for repairing birth defects, but also for other areas of systems biology and complexity science. It could help us build hybrid bioengineered systems, for synthetic or regenerative biology, or entirely artificial robotic systems that can repair themselves after damage or reconfigure their own structure to match changing needs in a complex environment."