Weekly News Bites: Limb regeneration, mid-life weight, and mussel and silkworm healing

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are the mechanisms behind regrowing limbs and middle-age weight gain, and a new wound dressing combining mussels and silkworms.

Humans can’t regenerate our limbs… yet! Mutant newts, studied by Caltech and the National Institute for Basic Biology, offer insights into limb regeneration mechanisms.The team uncovered the role of a molecule, FGF10, in limb development and regeneration. Mutant newts lacking FGF10 developed deformed limbs but grew back perfect ones after amputation, suggesting a direct role played by this molecule. 

A strange squid-like plant that eats fungi, lacks chlorophyll, and only emerges for a few days a year has been described by Kobe University scientists. This new genus doesn’t fit into the usual leafy green idea of plants but still has its place in the botanical world. The Relictithismia kimotsukiensis is also rare, with only five specimens found and only in the mountains of Kyushu. 

It can be difficult to maintain a certain weight as we reach middle age. This is not only due to personal choice, reinforced by researchers at Nagoya University who uncovered a potential mechanism behind middle-age weight gain: shrinking structures in the brain. These structures in the hypothalamus, called cilia, control metabolism and food intake. Age and/or overeating could be causes of this shrinking as observed in rats. 

Two creatures are better than one! Scientists from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) have developed a new internal wound dressing using natural assets from mussels and silkworms. Mussels produce a type of glue that allows them to stick to rocks and silkworms produce strong yet flexible fibers. Combining the two can promote clotting, prevent infections and the dressing can dissolve harmlessly in the body.