A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Grow your own limbs healing hope

Tony Hancock, that great English comedian, said in the classic Blood Donor episode "you know, they're people walking around today with hardly anything they started out with". At the time it was a funny line bordering on the absurd, being that it was 40 years ago. For our today it is patently true. A team at Manchester University, with funding from The Healing Foundation charity, are looking to animals for clues to how the body can regenerate. They have got some ideas from looking at frogs and salamanders. Odd nobody thought of it before, or maybe they did, and got rubbished as did Edward Jenner, who's memory should not be forgotten.

It was Edward Jenner who, whilst observing cowgirls milking their herds, wondered why they never contracted smallpox. The reason was they were inured to cowpox, as their hands were automatically "vaccinated" by rubbing on the cows' teats. Jenner waited 20 years for the stuffed shirts of the medical profession to take him seriously. 20 years in which people died from smallpox. Jenner had brains and imagination, something lacking in the GMC of the day. He called his system vaccination, after "vacca" Latin for cow!

Medical progress is about lucky finds, discoveries, and careful observation. If adult frogs grow new limbs at least one animal on this planet has something in them to do this. Professor Mark Ferguson, from the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering at Manchester University, said, "Imagine the situation where we have a medicine that perhaps you inject locally at the site of the injury which allows the body to regenerate that particular part. The first advances will probably be in straightforward tissues like the skin and cartilage and then in more complicated tissues like heart and liver. These are areas where advances are being made and will be made in the future. We are very excited."

If only Edward Jenner had people saying to him "We are very excited!"



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