bioelectric cell controls (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, February 23, 2023, 18:36 (33 days ago)

Very new studies:

"The video showed a frog embryo busily dividing to become a tadpole. Then, this tiny, smooth blob began to light up. Electrical patterns flashed a series of unmistakable images across it: two ears, two eyes, jaws, a nose. These ghostly projections didn’t last long. But 2 or 3 hours later, exactly where they had glimmered, the real things appeared: two ears, two eyes, jaws, a nose... It showed that electrical patterns provide a blueprint that shapes a developing body, coordinating where to put its face and grow its other features.

"Astounding as this sounds, it is just one of many roles that electricity plays in biology. There is mounting evidence that, as well as instructing development, electricity influences everything from wound healing to cancer. “Bioelectric gradients and communication are fundamental to being alive,” says Levin.


" But it turns out that the membrane around every one of your 40 trillion or so cells also acts like a little battery, using ion channels to maintain the cell’s tiny voltage. Over the past couple of decades, new tools and insights have revealed that this bioelectricity, dubbed the electrome, has a huge range of roles in the body.

"There is no better example than the way electricity shapes a developing body. We all recognise a regulation-issue human or chicken or fish when we see one. But how do the cells in a developing embryo know where to go to make that body, rendering all those fingers and beaks and fins in the proper place and dimensions? Since the 1960s, researchers have suspected that strange electrical pulses within fertilised eggs are important to their development. This conviction only deepened with advances in genetics. Decades of research into genomes have turned up little that could account for key aspects of an organism’s shape. You will find plenty of genes coding for specifics such as height or the colour of hair, skin and eyes. But nothing tells you how many eyes. There is no gene for “two eyeballs, and would you mind popping them on the front of the head”. The same is true for your legs, arms and ears. The genome alone can’t configure the placement of any of these features.


"The result was extraordinary. As the team members watched their footage that morning in the lab at Tufts, the dye revealed that the voltage of each cell was the cue for it to assume its particular identity. Initially, all the embryo’s undifferentiated stem cells hovered around 0 millivolts, but, as the animal developed, its proliferating cells assumed a variety of voltages depending on the tissue they would form: −70 millivolts for nerve cells, a more forceful −90 millivolts for skeletal muscle, a flabbier −50 millivolts for fat cells and so on. These voltage changes, which could be seen as the ghostly glimmerings of facial features, formed the blueprint on which the developing tadpole was based.

"Yet these shifts in voltage weren’t just maps, they were instructions. Subsequent experiments revealed that they turned on the genes that got to work to create an animal’s physical template. Messing with the electrical patterns disrupted the function of the ion channels and pumps that are crucial to maintaining the characteristic voltage of each cell type during development, resulting in radical physiological changes. Correcting the errant voltages during development fixed the problem. Alter a few of them deliberately and you can control body pattern: one study in frogs moved the place where the eyes grew from the face to the stomach. (my bold)

"Given the role of electricity in shaping a developing body, you might also expect it to be critical to maintaining that shape after an injury. This is indeed the case. The so-called current of injury – an electrical pulse produced when tissue is cut or otherwise damaged – was first reported in the 19th century, but ignored for more than 150 years. In 2011, Richard Nuccitelli, then at Old Dominion University in Virginia, built a device that could measure this current and found that it generates an electric field of around 120 millivolts per millimetre. This field acts as a beacon for the various cells that move in to repair damage and rebuild tissues. It is strongest right after an injury and wanes as healing occurs. People with a stronger current of injury heal faster than those in whom the signal is weaker. It also declines with age: you will have half the current at 65 that you had at 25.

"Tweaking the ‘bioelectric code’ has produced worms with second heads (my bold)

"The ultimate goal of this line of research isn’t just to heal an injury the way humans do – imperfectly, incompletely, with a scar – but to regrow limbs and organs the way some other animals can. This line of research is what Levin is best known for: tweaking the “bioelectric code” has helped him grow worms with second heads and regenerate frog legs at life stages when the animals can typically no longer regrow lost limbs. The work is now going on in mice and Levin has co-founded a start-up called Morphoceuticals with the aim of eventually adapting it to humans."

Comment: note the two bolds pointing out instructions and coding, two immaterial actions of minds. There must be a designing mind!!!

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