Researchers have delved into the possibility of humans being handed the ability to regenerate, much like mutant Wolverine heals up in Marvel's X-Men titles.
The character possesses a superpower that allows him to heal from any wound. And while it's all for comic books and TV, it could become a real-life possibility if a Havard University research team has its way.
According to a report from Yahoo, the researchers are beginning to understand how regeneration of human tissue could be possible via genetic "switches".
Wolverine's ability isn't really that far-fetched. All human beings are able to heal from various skin breaks but our abilities only go so far. While the Marvel character is able to heal from just about any wound he suffers, even caused by bullets and the like, regular human beings can't.
Our bigger injuries can only be helped by scar tissue but minor cuts and bruises sometimes disappear without leaving a trace. Science can't fully explain why that is, nor has it been able to determine the factors which must be present for such healing to occur.
However, after studying three-banded panther worms and how they are able to regenerate huge sections of their bodies, the team from Harvard claims to have identified the gene responsible for triggering cellular reconstruction.
"We were able to decrease the activity of this gene and we found that if you don't have EGR (early growth response), nothing happens," Dr. Mansi Srivastava, Assistant Professor of Organic and Evolutionary Biology at Havard explains. "The animals just can't regenerate. All those downstream genes won't turn on, so the other switches don't work, and the whole house goes dark, basically."
Humans obviously possess the genes but it pales in comparison when you consider the worms mentioned above, lizards and certain sea creatures like the starfish. So the key to the superhuman healing shown by Wolverine and fellow Marvel character Deadpool would be to turn on and amplify those genes.
If any progress is had on that front, it would certainly count as one of the most ingenious medical developments in history. But it would also force Marvel into upgrading Wolverine's ability, or else what would be the point?