Mice healed three times faster than normal after their broken bones were flooded by proteins naturally used to regrow new tissues. The discovery raises the possibility of a stem cell–free route to regeneration.

The Wnt family of proteins used in the mice are involved in healing many other types of tissue; the researchers hope they will find many other uses for them.

“Gut, skin, brain, muscle, cardiac muscle, corneas, retinas — people have studied the role of Wnt signals in all those tissues,” said Stanford University reconstructive surgeon and study co-author Jill Helms. “Maybe there could be a therapeutic approach to all this.”

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