Think ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’s’ Lizard is Fiction? Think Again!
Ever watched a sci-fi movie and pretty much sat there throughout it wondering just how unrealistic the stunts are? And if you're being particularly optimistic (some might say, unrealistic), what it might take for you to perform said stunts? Well, we're glad to be the bearer of great news then!
In the latest installment of the Spider-Man franchise, scientist Dr. Curtis 'Curt' Connors attempts to re-grow his missing arm by combining human genes and genes from a salamander. The salamanders have this incredible superpower (really!) giving them the natural ability to re-grow their limbs. In the movie, when Connors tests the serum on himself (after it was successful on a mouse), there seems to be a small side-effect: he becomes an evil lizard villain.
(Dude, you could really use some moisturizer.)
Ignoring the whole giant lizard man thing (not going to happen, sorry) and focusing on the initial arm regeneration, we look to Koudy Williams, D.V.M., a self-professed "Spider-Man geek" at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute. His inspiration was indeed Spider-Man, who wins awards for his research. Apart from being Spider-Man's #1 fan, Williams also studies the mechanisms of salamander regeneration in order to gain clues on how to regenerate human limbs.
Our bodies actually have a natural ability to regenerate wounded parts, and Williams (like Connors in the Spider-Man comics) is attempting to harness this ability and help injured military personnel. Fortunately, he assures us that they "would never combine human and animal genes," so we don't have to fear anything like The Lizard gracing Earth!
(Not gonna happen, nerds.)
"The body has the capacity to heal naturally," says Williams. "When there's an injury, cells release substances known as chemokines that attract other cells to promote healing. That's how a broken bone repairs itself and the outer layer of the eye re-grows if it is scratched. In regenerative medicine, our aim is to boost this natural healing power."
In the same lab they have developed a device that shoots out a spider-web-looking material. Instead of swinging from building to building though, or glamourously catching falling cars, they use the material to spin a structure that can be used to create new blood vessels. Sure, it's definitely less exciting, but still saving lives!
So next time you're disappointed at how far-fetched the movie you're watching seems, don't be so pessimistic -- you never know what the future brings!