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The regenerative potential in the animal kingdom displays striking divergence across ontogeny and phylogeny. For example, heart regeneration is remarkably robust in adult zebrafish and newborn mice while very limited in adult mammals. This presents a particular problem for patients with a heart attack who suffer from loss of millions of heart muscle cells and life-threatening functional deterioration of the heart.
We use the heart as a model to study organ regeneration and repair in adult zebrafish, neonatal and adult mice, with an emphasis on the pathways that regulate resident stem cell activation and cardiac muscle cell proliferation, and with innovative and integrated approaches in engineering, single cell analysis, advanced imaging microscopy and genome manipulation technology.
Deciphering the secret of organ regeneration from both evolutionary and developmental perspectives could yield insights that may ultimately emerge with clinical relevance and suggest novel approaches of regenerative medicine.