A discovery that could help researchers unlock the "regenerative potential" of human cells, may have been uncovered in the DNA of salamanders.
Salamanders are lizard-like amphibians famous for their capacity to replace body parts. Cut a salamander's leg off, and in time it will grow a new one.
Scientists have said it may be a long way off before humans can regenerate tails, jaws, eyes, organs and even spinal cords - but they are not ruling it out.
Researchers at University College London have identified a key difference between salamanders and mammals, which may explain why humans lack the same ability.
A biological pathway called ERK must be constantly active for salamander cells to be reprogrammed and contribute to the generation of different body parts.
Through the ERK pathway, proteins communicate signals from a cell's surface to the nucleus containing its genetic material.
Lead scientist from UCL's Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, said:
The research is published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.