Gecko’s can regrow their spinal cords, what about humans?

By Kaya Jordan

Matthew Vickaryous, a researcher and professor at the University of Guelph discovered the type of stem cell responsible for the gecko’s tail regeneration, which could be valuable information in the treatment of human spinal cord injuries. When a gecko is grabbed by a predator, it detaches its tail in order to escape unscathed. The gecko will then grow a new tail and spinal cord within 30 days. This phenomenon was simulated in the lab by pinching the gecko’s tail, which was followed by the natural process of new cell growth. From this experiment it was discovered that radial glia, a specific type of stem cell, was responsible for the regeneration. These cells usually maintain themselves in a resting state and only activate in response to an injury where they ultimately make a new spinal cord for the gecko. In contrast, the human body responds to a spinal cord injury by creating scar tissue, which inhibits any cell regeneration. It seems humans are missing the key cells responsible for healing their own spinal cords, but a lot can be learned from this incredible feat of spinal cord regeneration.


University of Guelph. (2017, November 2). Cells driving gecko's ability to re-grow its tail identified: Discovery of which cells are behind the gecko's ability to re-grow its tail has implications for spinal cord treatment in humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2017 from