Nail protein offers potential for limb regeneration

Recent study results published in Nature establish a link between nail stem cell differentiation and fingertip regeneration, suggesting that nail stem cells may have the potential to contribute to the development of novel treatments for amputees.

According to the study, a population of self-renewing stem cells in the nail matrix depends on Wnt proteins to regenerate bone in limbs, as well as hair and tissue. When the Wnt signal was blocked on amputated digits in rodent models, the nail and bone did not grow back. Researchers also found that they could manipulate the Wnt pathway to stimulate regeneration in bone and tissue just beyond the digit tip, which does not usually grow back, suggesting there could be therapies that could help people regenerate lost limbs.

The researchers will focus next on molecular mechanisms that control how the Wnt signaling pathway interacts with the nail stem cells to influence bone and nail growth.

For more information:

Takeo M. Nature. 2013;doi:10.1038/nature12214.

Disclosures: The researchers have no relevant financial disclosures.

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