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DARPA Sponsoring Limb Regeneration Research

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the regrow-the-ungrowable dept.

221

fragmentate writes "Wired News is reporting: 'In response to the hundreds of soldiers coming home from war with missing arms or legs, Darpa is spending millions of dollars to help scientists learn how people might one day regenerate their own limbs. Prosthetics are getting better all the time, but they will never be as good as the limbs we were born with. So two teams of scientists at 10 institutions across the country are competing to regrow the first mammalian limb ... The researchers' first milestone is to generate a blastema — a mass of cells able to develop into various organs or body parts — in a mammal.' Apparently this is a relatively new area of research, even Wikipedia's stub on blastemas is very terse."

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221 comments

Stub. (4, Funny)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178099)

Wikipedia's stub. I get it. Hah.

Re:Stub. (4, Funny)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178237)

Jokes aside, if they can regenerate limbs, surely its just a hop skip and a jump to regenerate organs? If we can do that, immortality is just around the corner...

Re:Stub. (4, Interesting)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178331)

First of all, TFA says that one of the two teams of scientists working on this is basing their work on the MRL mouse, which can and does regenerate internal organs, including severed spinal cords.

Second of all, this may increase lifespan, but would not provide immortality. Human cells stop reproducing after a certain number of reproductions. The cell chromosomes have end-cap like things called telomeres which are shortened with each mitotic cycle. When they get too short, the cell stops reproducing. This is to prevent too many mutations from accumulating after a while. Generally, if cells divide without shortening the telomeres, they're usually malignant tumor cells. So to get immortality, you'd have to augment the mitotic cycle to a) "spellcheck" the chromosome copying, and b) prevent the telomeres from being shortened.

Re:Stub. (2, Informative)

Flavio (12072) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178423)

The chromosome copying is already spellchecked.

Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells have copy verification and repair machinery which drastically reduce replication errors.

Re:Stub. (4, Interesting)

izomiac (815208) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178581)

Drastically reduce but not eliminate. IIRC mutations tend to occur once every 600,000 base pairs, so that would mean that replication is about 99.99983% accurate. After 100 divisions the genome of a cell would only be 99.983% accurate, so it'd have about 1 error every 500 base pairs. Given the size of most genes/proteins, that cell should have some serious problems or be cancerous. (I don't know the "maximum" number of divisions, it could be more or less, but you can see the problem.) Not to mention, mutation accumulation is just one part of aging. Now, if we could take our genome and add some parity base pairs and some redundancy checking proteins we might be able to address that problem. But that's far beyond our level of genetic engineering (AFAIK).

Re:Stub. (4, Informative)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178425)

a) "spellcheck" the chromosome copying, and b) prevent the telomeres

b) is easy, you can shut off telomerase for a while(http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerend er.fcgi?artid=14711&tools=bot [nih.gov])

Re:Stub. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178759)

Sorry, you've got it backwards.

Telomerase increases the length of the telomere, so you'd need to turn telomerase on temporarily, not shut it off.

Most tumors produce telomerase, which is a major factor in their ability to grow indefinitely.

Re:Stub. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178921)

Actually, humans have an enzyme called telomerase [wikipedia.org] that rebuilds telomers. You're right that telomers do wear down over time, but the solution may be much simpler than preventing telomer shortening, which, if I remember correctly, is sort of a side-effect of DNA replication.

Re:Stub. (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178511)

If they can regenerate organs, will they be able to regenerate the largest organ, skin? This would help burn victims immeasurably.

Re:Stub. (2, Interesting)

RobinH (124750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178659)

As I understand it, the ability of cells in a human body to regenerate themselves (heal) diminishes over time due to "programming" in our genes. This causes aging, but is also a cancer fighting mechanism.

If you could use a given adult's body to grow a blastema or whatever it is and then use it to grow a limb or organ, the cells would remember their "age" and would still not be as resilient as a child's organ or limb. Therefore, you could replace your heart at the age of 75 but it would still be a 75 year old's heart in some ways.

If you could use a child's cells to create a blastema and then use that to create organs for an adult, then you're talking about real rejuvenation. Of course, you'd not be able to do this with a brain, so you're still going to eventually run out of neurons. At least you could live a better quality of live though.

The best idea would be to combine this blastema thing with the ability to turn off the genes that cause aging, while finding a cure for cancer at the same time. Then I think we would be almost immortal. Just keep your brain from being damaged beyond repair.

Re:Stub. (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178779)

Well, considering that a limb is made up of serveral organs, such as bones and muscles, I would think that you would have to get organs before you could get limbs.

Re:Stub. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178805)

And then there's that darn brain to deal with. Even if we can completely map it, the best we can hope for is a *copy*. On the soldiers issue, perhaps this line of darpa research is aimed at growing new recruits for the war on terror. No brain required. *cough* Sarcasm aside, the military applications are endless.

Re:Stub. (2, Insightful)

brainburger (792239) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178841)

hmmm - I bet it is possible to regenerate the body indefinitely, (eventually), but I am doubtful that this is possible with the mind. Even if the brain-tissue could be replaced, could a useful structure be preserved? How would a human mind cope with the increased memory requirements? - It would distort the psychology somewhat to have centuries or millennia of experience.
Perhaps the brain could drop its oldest memories in favour of new ones, but would this seem like immortality to mind of that person?

worthy of King Midas (2, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178923)

Immortality may be just not that far off, but all that would lead to is an increase in over population and wealth stratifacation. I'm all for improving the quality of life for amputees but I think a century or so is long enough for any one person.

Wikipedia (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178101)

Since this is Slashdot, which is not exactly known to be a bastion of maturity, I bet that Wikipedia won't be very terse for long...

Re:Wikipedia (2, Funny)

nametaken (610866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178157)

Funny, that was my thought, except I had a bit more optimistic expectation. I was hoping that it would get filled out in record time with quality info. :)

Reminds me of The Forever War (5, Interesting)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178113)

(WARNING - SPOILERS)

When William Mandella lost his leg in an accident he was under the impression that he would simply be given an artificial one and would then be free to persue a semi-normal life. To his horror he discovers they'll simply grow him a new leg and chuck him right back in to active duty... :)

Re:Reminds me of The Forever War (3, Interesting)

nosredna (672587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178427)

New moderation ideas are a dime a dozen, but I have to throw one in for this...

+1 Creepy but probably true

Re:Reminds me of The Forever War (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178557)

Wells it's also likely the soldier may want to go back to his unit if he was rehabilitated...

Not too far from reality (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178731)

IIRC, it makes a good story anyway, the use of pinning etc was pioneered by military medics as a way to quickly heal limbs and recycle soldiers faster. Previous to that, an "accidentally" damaged leg was a ticket back to home comforts and safety.

Chip off the genetic block. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178117)

""Wired News is reporting: 'In response to the hundreds of soldiers coming home from war with missing arms or legs, Darpa is spending millions of dollars to help scientists learn how people might one day regenerate their own limbs [CC] [MD] [GC]. Prosthetics are getting better all the time, but they will never be as good as the limbs we were born with."

Stem cells!

Has no one seen the Spider-man cartoons (2, Insightful)

JoeyJoeJo (595732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178123)

Wasn't the Lizard created from a scientist who was trying to do this very thing?

Re:Has no one seen the Spider-man cartoons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178789)

His name was Curtis Conners.

Radial idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178129)

Here's a radical idea (maybe too radical for DARPA) that just might work. How about we refrain from military conflicts unless they are absolutely, positively necessary? That is, instead of sending our young men and women off the Iraq based on faked intelligence and then trying to figure out how to improve the quality of their lives when they come back, why don't we just execute more care before sending them out in the first place? Less conflicts means less amputations.

Re:Radial idea (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178203)

Here's a radical idea...

I have another radical idea. How about you let us talk about technology on this site, and you take your political rants over to digg where it belongs.

Re:Radial idea (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178395)

Here's a radical idea (maybe too radical for DARPA) that just might work. How about we refrain from military conflicts unless they are absolutely, positively necessary?


First of all DARPA [wikipedia.org] is the research arm of the DOD. Secondly, the military [wikipedia.org] doesn't like to fight a war unless they absolutely have to. Unfortunately, they don't get to choose their fights. The President does that.

rant: And if they had sent those 500,000 troops in the first place instead of pussy footing around maybe Iraq wouldn't be in the mess it is. /rant

Re:Radial idea (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178753)

. . .they don't get to choose their fights. The President does that.

Washington, we have a problem.

KFG

Re:Radial idea (1)

kahei (466208) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178473)


I'm sure that's already occurred to DARPA. Unfortunately, the military goes off to Iraq when they are ordered to by the elected representative of you, the voter. So what are you doing about it?

Re:Radial idea (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178505)

Am i the only one who noticed that radical was spelled wrong?

/topic

As stated, darpa is a research group they don't pick wars. They do what they can to make life easier for our soldiers. However maybe you right, the military should never research stuff like this.

Re:Radial idea (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178535)

Easy, only veterans should be allowed to vote and run for office.

Re:Radial idea (1, Insightful)

c_forq (924234) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178591)

We tried that one for a while. We were criticised for being xenophobic and isolationist.

Reliable sources (1)

Lord Aurora (969557) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178131)

Apparently this is a relatively new area of research, even Wikipedia's stub on blastemas is very terse.


Of course, Wikipedia stubs are the definitive indicator of a field of knowledge.


Moving on, though, I guess I'll have to mention how starfish do the whole regeneration thing. You know. And geckos, and other stuff like that. In fact, your own body can do it already---sorta kinda not really---in that a tumor or a wart is just a replication sequence gone awry. Interesting to see how this turns out. Can't imagine what the FDA will do with it if and when it's successful.

Don't underestimate prosthetics (4, Interesting)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178145)

Prosthetics are getting better all the time, but they will never be as good as the limbs we were born with.

Why not? I see no good reason why competent engineering can't eventually beat a chunk of meat.

It's not like we were intelligently designed... we evolved. Evolution will tend to produce good solutions to problems, but it will hardly ever produce the best possible solution. Once we get nerve-circuit interfaces down, we should have no problem outengineering most of the human body.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178185)

In 2 or 3 centuries maybe.

Sure, the human body is a result of evolution, but that doesnt mean that its not sophisticated at all. Its the result of a billion years of "everything thats not good enough died", starting from the level of cellular chemistry up to the general layout.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178851)

In 2 or 3 centuries maybe.

Oh, I think we can do better than that. Remember that "everything that's not good enough dies" combines with "anything that's better than it needs to be gets pwned by random mutations".

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (4, Insightful)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178213)

we should have no problem outengineering most of the human body.

Yes and then the batteries in your cyberleg run down and you have to haul the entire 40 kilo hunk of metal across town in the rain... on one leg. Besides that you are forgetting that the limbs aren't seperate components of the body; its all interlinked. Its no good having an arm able to flip over a truck, your torso would compact and tear itself apart if you didn't just rip the thing off, nerve circuits and all. The only real option for enhanced performance cybernetics would be a Ghost in the Shell effort, with full body replacement except for the brain. If you can manage that, without regular maintenance and some sort of 50 year power source, I'll admit you have a point.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (3, Interesting)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178935)

Consider that cyberleg. We can build it to run off glucose in order to avoid it running out of batteries. We can easily give it the performance characteristics of an athlete - we know the human body can take that. It will never get out of shape. Assuming it has sufficient glucose (which is easy to introduce to your body, especially if you deal with the insulin thing right), it will never get tired.

Now, that's no car-tossing cyberarm, but it's definately an improvement on the stock equipment. The downside is maintnence, but anyone who's paid too much attention to cyberpunk settings knows that - and that can be reduced with better engineering.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (0, Troll)

nametaken (610866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178223)

It's not like we were intelligently designed... we evolved.

That's a bold statement of fact, considering even the most avid proponents of evolution refer to it as "theory".

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (4, Funny)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178263)

That's a bold statement of fact, considering even the most avid proponents of evolution refer to it as "theory".

Not a great troll... poignant, with a hint of maple... but lacking in the body and depth that a really rich, warm troll should have... I'll have to give this one star, I'm afraid.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (2, Interesting)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178365)

Evolution is both theory and fact. Please learn the definition of the word 'theory'.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (1)

cappadocius (555740) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178847)

Evolution is both theory and fact. Please learn the definition of the word 'theory'.

To be fair to the little troll, the original post clearly is referring to the theory of evolution.

The fact of evolution does not make predictions about the degree to which the design of any biological organism is optimized. All scientific theories of evolution derived from the Darwinian one seem implicitly to do so.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178783)

even the most avid proponents of evolution refer to it as "theory".

Yup. Like the theory of gravity.

There's no question that organisms evolve any more than there is question that masses attract eachother. There is some debate about the exact mechanism for these effects, but there's no question that they happen.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178457)

Name one robotic device that has ever equalled any organic creature for versitility? They can be stronger and faster but there has never been an electronic device than can equal an ant for size weight and versitility let alone a human. It may one day be possible but not in our lifetimes and when it is chances are the robot will closely resemble organics Mechanical devices are actually the more limited of the two. Organics will always win when it come to adaptability. You'll probably see a cloned limb far sooner than a robotic one that can do half what the cloned one could. Just because it's high tech doesn't mean it's superior.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178737)

What, exactly, do you mean by "versitility" and "adaptability"? Give examples.

Outengineering a biological system isn't nessisarily easy, but I assure you that it's possible. High tech devices aren't always better, but they frequently are - which is why we build them.

Don't underestimate overestimation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178497)

Our engineering arrogance is still no competition with the million-year-old blind watch maker. From nanotechnology, to junk DNA, dark matter, and artificial intelligence, we constantly overestimate our understanding. We will get there, but we don't even know what we don't know. I think we will be cribbing engineering notes from cell cultures for millennium to come and still have much left to learn from biology.

Re:Don't underestimate overestimation (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178593)

Arrogance is a virtue. Without it, we would give up without even trying.

That's not to say that you're not right. We have a ton of stuff to learn from biological systems - we've barely begun to scratch the surface on all the useful stuff that evolution has come up with.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (4, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178503)

Just because we may eventually out-tnature doesn't mean the thousands of injured soliders and civilians want part of their body replaced with robotics if they could have the option of a new, real limb.

There is also no reason both areas of research can't operate simultaneously, nor anything that is restricting them from working coopoeratively.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178817)

You are absolutely correct.

It just annoys me when people assume that technology isn't going to improve, or that the human body is the pinnacle of perfection.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178671)

I get your point, but:

1. It will take a while! I think it is more a matter of centuries than decades.

2. It will be too expensive for most people. Look at the moon landings. They would never have happened if not the richest nation on earth would have poured so much money into it. Even now it is still too expensive to put people into near orbit. The few exeptions only go there, because the governments still spend A LOT of money on it. The few tourists (that still pay more than some thousand people in Africa spend their whole life just to survive) do not cover the investment at all. They just cover some of the running costs. So they actually travel on huge subsidies.

Re:Don't underestimate prosthetics (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178765)

Your own limbs have grown and developed based on how you use them and look after them: bone density, nerve wirings etc. A limb grown in the lab won't have developed the same so won't be suitable.

Wikipedia's stub on blastemas is very terse (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178165)

I think it would be more accurate to say Wikipedia's stub on blastemas is embryonic.

Re:Wikipedia's stub on blastemas is very terse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178483)

The neutrality [wikipedia.org] of the parent post is disputed.

the Real cost of war (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178167)


they certainly have plenty of Iraq war veterans to practice on, over 20,000 injured to date , 2700 dead and counting

im sure thats exactly what the families of 9/11 would of wanted in their name

.

Re:the Real cost of war (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178587)


>they certainly have plenty of Iraq war veterans to practice on, over 20,000 injured to date , 2700 dead and >counting

I rarely come across any detailed report of those injuries. Not all injuries are the same. And who considers two lost arms to be an equivalent disability to one lost leg, or even two legs? (I don't, but I get the impression it's not "socially correct" to say so.)

All we hear about is the aggregate number of casualties. Nothing to tell us what kind of injuries they represent. Some of those 20,000 might recover, and others will not, and there is a big difference between different injuries.

Re:the Real cost of war (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178795)

All we hear about is the aggregate number of casualties.

One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic. -Joseph Stalin.

KFG

is this really the right reason? (1, Troll)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178193)

In response to the hundreds of soldiers coming home from war with missing arms or legs, Darpa is spending millions of dollars to help scientists learn how people might one day regenerate their own limbs.

You *know* the Army's thinking behind this is to regenerate their limbs so they can just send them back to war.

Re:is this really the right reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178299)

Yes, yes! Let's assume that.

Afterwards we can stop research on all things that improve quality of life because they might be used for military purposes. Yes, even if it means significantly reducing the cost of human suffering we pay for acts of war.

Re:is this really the right reason? (1, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178523)

I doubt there's going to throw someone back into battle that's gone through the psychological trauma of having a limb blown off. You can replace the body part, perhaps, but the mental damage will be there for awhile.

Re:is this really the right reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178913)

You can replace the body part, perhaps, but the mental damage will be there for awhile

Pussy

Re:is this really the right reason? (1)

dotoole (881696) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178555)

It's just common sense.

Training costs a hell of a lot of money. Some guy gets a limb blown off and suddenly all that training and experience is useless (on the front line at least). If limb replacements can be accomplished without serious side-affects then I don't see any real moral dilema.

Guy breaks his leg, gets healed, and is sent back to the front line.
Guy loses a leg, gets it replaced, and is sent back to the front line.

Is there really that much of a difference?

can we grow some extra limbs in advance? (3, Funny)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178197)

so, say, if one hand is blown off, I still have a few more left, no need to rush to hospital. an extra head won't hurt either. (with a possibility of starring in Hitchhiker).

Potential for other applications (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178209)

If they can give soldiers the ability to grow amputated limbs, any possibility this technology can be used to produce 100% real enlarged breasts? Forget silicone and saline implants, in ten years time we'll have women who can inject themselves with this serum and grow from a B-cup to DD. I imagine the government will find a way to outlaw that, too, just like they did for silicone "for the saftey of women".

Re:Potential for other applications (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178613)

If they can give soldiers the ability to grow amputated limbs, any possibility this technology can be used to produce 100% real enlarged breasts?

Yes, but don't be surprised if people look at you funny -- or maybe that should be funnier.

KFG

Re:Potential for other applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178717)

Dude, enormous tits aren't sexy. Learn to appreciate them the way the are.

Now.

Tell me how to grow my cock 5 more inches, and we'll talk.

Re:Potential for other applications (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178905)

Not really. Regenerating a limb is replacing something your body already has instructions on how to build. Since the B-cup girl doesn't have the instructions for a DD, it wouldn't work.

But it would rock for those who had a mastectomy.

One step closer... (2, Funny)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178235)

This is one step closer to the invincible zombie army that the government is working on. Maybe it will help us defeat the robots in the future?

Why yes, my hat ismade out of tin. How did you know?

Re:One step closer... (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178739)

Why yes, my hat ismade out of tin. How did you know?
We know all about you QuantunFTL (the tinfoil, it does nothing)

Re:One step closer... (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178791)

We know all about you QuantunFTL (the tinfoil, it does nothing)

It's apparently blocked you from reading my nick properly... :)

War on Missing Limbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178239)

The real reason for this research is so we can torture 'insurgents' by cutting off their limbs as this won't be a permanent condition at some point.

Ask for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178281)

Blade's or any other vampire's DNA... They regenerate limbs don't they?

Millions ? (2, Interesting)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178311)

The two groups are sharing $7.6 million in grants for a year to find a way to give humans salamander-like abilities.

Am I out of whack or it's $7.6m like peanuts for this kind of research? I'd guess any serious effort on that would need to be in the billions level, and that likely for many years.

Re:Millions ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178583)

well, I guess it depends on the "salamander-like abilities" that you're asking for.
If just you wanna be able to work your tongue like a salamander (and God knows that's what I'm hoping for), then I'd hope 7.6 mil should cover it...

Oh wait... regenerated limbs? Ok, yea, that'll cost ya...
(I'm still pullin' for the tongue thing though)

Re:Millions ? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178661)

Or just a few thousands to just the right person at just the right time.

Money is pretty good at creating data and sorta good at creating engineering, but it's never been shown to be very good at producing science, accept by accident.

See Fleming's discovery of penicillin vs. the godzillions spent looking for a cure for cancer.

KFG

How about some hair regeneration? (5, Funny)

glrotate (300695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178335)

Let's focus our efforts on something a little more important.

Thanks.

Re:How about some hair regeneration? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178575)

Go read your Polya.... Hair regeneration is simple and, I'd like to think, something we learned from doing something small and simple first helped us understand the larger puzzle.

recall the transhumanist point of view (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178429)

Dismissing prosthetics as being less than natural ignores that the technology is always improving. It's not that hard to envision a time when the prosthetic limb is better than the natural one. For example, at best, we'll be able to grow back a natural limb. If a prosthetic limb breaks, it will probably be a lot easier to replace. OTOH, it's reasonable to assume that a considerable fraction of people are going to want like replaced with like. Ie, they will often want a natural limb replaced by a natural one or an artificial one replaced by the same.

Potential for new cybernetic prosthetics (3, Informative)

Colgate2003 (735182) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178445)

they will never be as good as the limbs we were born with

Not quite as good, but I just interviewed [mos.org] someone about new research into interfacing neurons with electronics that could lead to Luke Skywalker-like replacement limbs. Harvard researchers have figured out a way to directly read and write to a neuron with digital electronics.

Re:Potential for new cybernetic prosthetics (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178631)

Harvard researchers have figured out a way to directly read and write to a neuron with digital electronics.

It gives new meaning to the BSOD.

Obligatory Simpsons quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16178525)

Medic: Sir, we're going to need to cut off your arms.

Homer: They'll grow back, right?

Akira... (1)

MaineCoon (12585) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178579)

The researchers' first milestone is to generate a blastema -- a mass of cells able to develop into various organs or body parts -- in a mammal.

Cue out-of-control flesh monster, Akira-style.

Been done in rats (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178611)

Look up 'charles becker', he did things like this in his research 20 years ago. Was regrowing rat legs right and left from what i remember.

And isnt a rat pretty close to a human? Thats what they keep saying anyway.

Prosthetics beat natural limbs (2, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178729)

6 million dollar man
Inspector Gadget
Luke Skywalker

Fake limbs can resist bullets. They can have powerful weapons and other tools. If you buy the Dr. Strangelove model, you get to blame the arm's buggy software when it grabs a woman's butt.

Re:Prosthetics beat natural limbs (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178969)

Until the control is good enough that I can, say, play guitar without any more difficulty than I do with my meat hand, I think I'll stick with meat.

Wiki's stub (0, Offtopic)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178829)

I know that this has already been beaten to death, but, for instance, Wikipedia's stub on Radiometry [wikipedia.org], one of the oldest fields in optics, is also rather terse--and that's the entry for an _entire field in optics._

It DOES, I might add, as a saving grace contain the most important radiometric lesson that anyone in the sciences needs to learn: if you say the word "intensity," you probably ACTUALLY mean irradiance. This bothers optics folks to NO END.

Time for the new DARPA challenge! (2, Interesting)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178875)

A member of each tem gets one limb sawn off and the first one to regrow it to appropriate size wins the prize!

Focus Points (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 7 years ago | (#16178917)

I think they need to narrow it down a little - you know, focus on more important things like testicles. Apparently, Dell is more or a threat to our collective biology than the Iraq war. You can't ignore this sort of thing when you go sci-fi like this.

Limbs are great, but some limbs are are more important than others. Priorities, people.

-sorry
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