Known as Lin28a, the gene has been found to be highly active among unborn children but its effect wanes as the child ages. On analyzing the effect of the gene on mice, the researchers found that it helped speed up the healing process and also quickened the regrowth of a patch of fur after it was shaved off while repairing the injured tissues in the ear.
The researchers said that the gene worked by increasing the production of several metabolic enzymes and enhancing the metabolic processes that are active in the embryos. The study has been published in the journal Cell.
"It sounds like science fiction but Lin28a could be part of a healing cocktail that gives adults the superior tissue repair seen in juvenile animals. Why some animals can fully regenerate organs when others cannot is a longstanding mystery of biology. Our studies support the concept that mammalian tissue repair can be substantially improved by engineering the reactivation of genes that regulate juvenile developmental stages", lead researcher George Daley said.