Ah, the privileged life of a salamander. Chop off a limb, and within days a new one grows in its place. In recent years, scientists have become increasingly interested in tracing the molecular origins of this seemingly magical ability. By harnessing the mechanisms involved in a number of animal models, researchers hope to one day grow a variety of new human tissues in place of the old or defective, thereby supplanting the need for less "natural" remedies such as bionic limbs or organ transplantation. Unlike common wound healing, regeneration leaves a perfect replacement of the original tissue without scarring.

Driven by basic research advances in cell and developmental biology, immunology, and surface and polymer chemistry, regenerative biology generally involves either the transplantation of isolated adult, fetal, or stem cells, the implantation of bioartificial tissues into a biodegradable scaffold or matrix, or the induction of regeneration in situ. Despite progress in...

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