The lens of the Japanese newt, Cynops pyrrhogaster, can regenerate eighteen times over a sixteen year period, reports a study published in Nature Communications this week. These findings suggest that in this species of newt regeneration of the eye does not become less efficient over time or with age.
Panagiotis Tsonis and colleagues collected newts in 1994 and over time repeatedly removed the lens of their eyes, in a procedure termed a lensectomy. The experiment was performed eighteen times over a sixteen year period and they demonstrate that the lenses that regenerate after the 17th and 18th procedure have the same morphology as control newts and express lens genes at a similar level. Their findings reveal a new extended capacity for regeneration over a prolonged period of time.