As shocking as it may sound, when a child’s fingertip is chopped off it can regrow like a lizard’s limb. The fingerprints will be forever lost but the bone, flesh and nails will be there for good.
There have been several recorded cases in which a child’s fingertip regenerated after it had been amputated. In order to find out the reason behind this phenomenon, scientists have tried to copy the process with lab mice. Mayumi Ito from the New York University and her study team found out that mice’s fingertips can also regenerate. The only condition is that the amputated part must leave a little bit of fingernail or claw.
And here lies the key to the mystery. There are certain cells, which Ito calls “nail stem cells”, capable of triggering the regenerating process. They have the ability to attract nerves, bone and skin into growing back a full fingertip –a mouse or human one. However, it’s not yet clear if the whole nerve attraction and bone growing process can occur in adults or with other parts of the limb.