Researchers at the University of California at Irvine have discovered a new research tool for furthering research in regeneration. Trying to change the limitations on the functional analysis of genes and other agents, the researchers tested the feasibility of a virus vector. Using vaccinia virus as a carrier for signaling molecules, they tested the effectiveness of the virus as vector on the protein sonic hedgehog (Shh). Normally, this protein is believed to help initiate the cell activity leading to tissue growth. When the virus over expressed Shh it resulted in digit duplication, supporting the evidence that the Shh protein has a role in tissue development. While other vectors have been found, this is the first to successfully generate a large number of cells in a localized area. If this system of testing is supported as an accurate method, it may finally settle some of the disputes about the role of different agents in limb regeneration (10).
Link to the press release: http://www.communications.uci.edu/00releases/016tv00.html
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