Organ transplants may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to this new method of regeneration. Humans have an organ called the thymus, which is critical for maintaining a healthy immune system and it also matures T-cells that help stave off infections. As people get older, the thymus begins to wear down, releasing fewer T-cells. In this experiment, researchers used middle-aged to elderly mice and stimulated production of a protein called FOXN1, which acts as a trigger for genes and is important in the thymus’ development. The mices’ thymuses responded positively, and organs grew to at least 2.6 times of their previous size and the T-cell counts doubled. Continue reading for a video and more information.
Professor Clare Blackburn, who led the research, said: “By targeting a single protein, we have been able to almost completely reverse age-related shrinking of the thymus.” According to Dvice, “The mice involved in the experiment were genetically engineered to respond to this treatment, so the use of this on humans isn’t something that can happen immediately. However, this research does show that organ regeneration is possible – and potentially more effective than working with stem cells.”