Wolverine is likely the most recognizable of the X-Men, capable of extending razor sharp claws made of the unbreakable adamantium fused to his skeleton. The cellular processes and regulatory pathways that allow Wolverine to regenerate so readily had been a scientific mystery… until now.
A six-page-long satirical paper was submitted to the Journal of Superhero Mutational Science by graduate students from the University of British Colombia, co-authored by mutants Cyclops and Professor Charles Xavier. The paper outlines the genetics of regeneration and attributes Wolverine’s abilities to the protein Howlett (taken from Wolverine’s birth name, James Howlett). Howlett bears many similarities to Amblox, the protein responsible for limb regeneration in axolotls. The paper was also published in The Science Creative Quarterly; an online journal from UBC that celebrates the oddities of scientific research.
The paper discusses side-by-side trials exploring Howlett in humans and Amblox in axolotls. In both mutant humans and for amphibians knocking out the gene that codes for the regenerative proteins resulted in a decreased inability for the individual to heal itself. The results of these studies may aid in the development of new therapies in the field of regenerative medicine for humans, both mutant and wild-type.