A master gene that activates wound healing in insects and mammals has been discovered, a finding that could lead to new insights into tissue regeneration and cancer.

Kimberly Mace and colleagues from the University of California, San Diego found that the master gene, grainyhead, activates wound repair genes in cells surrounding injuries in the outer layer of fly embryos.

Meanwhile, researchers led by Stephen Jane at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia have found that while the outer layer of insects and mammalian skin are chemically different, grainyhead is also essential for normal skin development and wound repair in mice.

“One would envisage that maybe, not too far away, that after an operation that there’s a cream or substance that’s applied around the wound to stimulate the cells to migrate together to form a nice seamless connection whereby the wound heals without scar,” Jane said in an interview.

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