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Limb regeneration remains the stuff of science fiction for humans, but an accidental discovery provides a new window into what it would take for people to grow lost limbs with newt-like flair.

The finding emerged from research into a gene that can turn back the clock on human cells. Young animals are able to recover from tissue damage much better than adults and can even regenerate tissues in the womb. In recent years researchers have eyed a gene called Lin28a, which is active early in life but silenced in most mature tissues. It can reprogram human somatic (non-reproductive) cells, rewinding them back to an embryonic-like state. The work led researchers to stumble upon another potential role for this gene, which enhances the healing power of mice when reactivated.

In the course of his cancer research George Daley of Children

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