The past, present, and future of tissue regeneration

M. Natalia Vergara, Panagiotis A. Tsonis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The study of regeneration is probably one of the most fascinating and ancient human quests, one that holds the potential of impacting human life not only by providing novel medical strategies but also by challenging our understanding of biology and evolution in general. The idea of regenerating an amputated body part has been engrained in human imagination since the beginnings of civilization, and testimonies to that account can be found from the texts of ancient Egypt to Greek mythology to Middle Age writings (Sanchez Alvarado, 2000; Tsonis, 2000; Stocum, 2004). The eighteenth-century natural philosopher René-Antoine Ferchault de Reaumur was probably the first to scientifically describe the regeneration of crayfish limbs and claws (reviewed in Dinsmore, 1992; Okada, 1996). He was followed in the 1740s by the works of the Swiss scientists Abraham Trembley and Charles Bonet, who described the complete regeneration of hydra and earthworms upon resection (Galliot, 2012). And in the 1760s, Lazzaro Spallanzani published the first work on the ability of salamanders to regenerate their limbs, jaws, and tails (Dinsmore, 1991; Okada, 1996; Sanchez Alvarado, 2000; Tsonis and Fox, 2009). Since then, the field of regenerative biology has made remarkable progress, making significant contributions along its way to the study of embryology and genetics (Dinsmore, 1992; Okada, 1996). Still, it is interesting to ponder that the fundamental questions have remained the same: What determines the capacity of a tissue to regenerate? Why don't different tissues adopt similar regenerative strategies? Why can newts regenerate almost any body part but humans cannot? Can we harness such potential?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRegenerative Pharmacology
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781139047357
ISBN (Print)9780521899499
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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