When a hobby-store owner in Cincinnati sliced off his fingertip, he went to the emergency room without the missing tip. He couldn't find it anywhere. The doctor bandaged the wound and recommended a skin graft.
This man happened to have a brother in the tissue-regeneration business, who told him to forego the skin graft and instead apply a powdered extract to the raw finger tip.
The extract, called extracellular matrix, lays the framework that cells use to generate any given body part. It's like a cellular scaffolding, and all animals have it. It holds the signals that direct cells to divide, differentiate and build themselves into a specific form.
In human fetuses, the substance works in concert with stem cells to grow and regrow everything from heart aortas to toes. Fetuses can regrow almost anything that gets damaged while in the womb.
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