Michalis Averof (IGFL), ERC Advanced Grant

Michalis Averof (IGFL), ERC Advanced Grant

Wed, 24/08/2016

Honors and awards

When limbs grow back…

Through which odd process are certain species able to regenerate in spectacular ways? The topic fascinates Michalis Averof, CNRS research director at the Institute of Functional Genomics of Lyon (IGFL). His project is one of the 277 selected (30 in France) for a 2015 Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (ERC).
Crabs, squids, salamanders and many other animals have the fabulous capacity to make a part of their body grow back after it has been severely injured or amputated. Imagine if humans could do the same! A dream pursued as much in Greek mythology as in modern medicine. Unfortunately, we have barely managed to understand this phenomenon in the most performing species: the cells in charge of this regeneration, their origin, their purpose or the coordination needed to rebuild a limb.
It’s also difficult to understand why some animals have substantial regeneration capacities, while others – like humans – have very little.
Averof and his team have lifted the veil on some of these mysteries. They have mapped the cells dedicated to the creation of new tissue in shellfish: the “progenitor cells”. These are different depending on their purpose: regeneration of the muscles, nerves or skin. Comparing their results to those of other species, the scientists highlighted something very surprising: some of these progenitor cells are found on vertebrates, including humans themselves. More precisely, they discovered that the progenitor cells on the muscle of shellfish looked like the “satellite cells” in the muscle that vertebrates use to fix them or even regenerate them.
Michalis Averof: short bio
  • 1994: doctorate from the University of Cambridge in development biology and evolution
  • 1995: post-doc in the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 1999-2012: setup of his team in Greece, Institute of molecular biology and biotechnology, Crete Since
  • 2012: CNRS research director at the IGFL

Equipe Michalis Averof IGFL ENS Lyon
From left to right: Marco Grillo, Patricia Ramos, Michalis Averof and Cagri Cevrim

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