Pig bladder powder regrows human finger

A man cut off his finger tip while working on a model plane. His brother, a medical research scientist, sent him a vial containing powdered pig bladder and told him to sprinkle on the severed finger tip. It grew back -- "flesh, blood, vessels and nail" -- in four weeks.

That powder is a substance made from pig bladders called extracellular matrix. It is a mix of protein and connective tissue surgeons often use to repair tendons and it holds some of the secrets behind the emerging new science of regenerative medicine.

"It tells the body, start that process of tissue regrowth," said Badylak.

Badlayk is one of the many scientists who now believe every tissue in the body has cells which are capable of regeneration. All scientists have to do is find enough of those cells and "direct" them to grow.

"Somehow the matrix summons the cells and tell them what to do," Badylak explained. "It helps instruct them in terms of where they need to go, how they need to differentiate - should I become a blood vessel, a nerve, a muscle cell or whatever."

Link (Thanks, Lex10!)


  1. This is true in that there are real people claiming this.

    Also there is science to suggest how it may be possible.

    However, this incident has not been independently verified let alone reproduced.

  2. @4; thanks, quite interesting.

    Who is watching for trans species infection? Is there prion/viral risk?

  3. Why is this not in every medicine cabinet? FDA approval I guess. I’m sure over-use has side effects.

  4. Yep, it’s a little too close to April 1st for me to believe every wild thing I read on the internet. (…unlike the rest of the year, when I respond to 419 emails, buy things that supposedly enlarge my male parts, and think that something must be true if it’s on Wikipedia).

  5. I’m in the middle of reading the new book “Charlatan” about Dr. Brinkley, the goat testicle transplant quack of the 1920s and 30s. This doesn’t sound that different. Can we see the published research behind all miracle medical claims, please? Especially before experimenting on humans?

  6. My BS detector went off as soon as I read that the man cut off the fingertip while building a model plane. I’ve been building models for most of my life, and I’m pretty familiar with the standard tools, and I can’t even imagine how, using normal modeling tools, someone could cut off so much of their finger that the entire nail would be missing.

  7. Just check out the link that #4 posted… it’s in common use among veterinarians (but maybe should be among other vets, too.)

    I wonder if it would work on bone okay…

  8. >How long (sorry) before I get spam selling me this stuff to enlarge my penis?

    yeah, but you’d have to cut it off, first!

    Paging Mr. Mohel, pick up the white courtesy telephone, please.

  9. 15: He cut it off on the propeller of a remote control airplane, not a model plane. I’ve seen a guy almost get his hand cut off by one of those.

  10. I did some work in Badylak’s lab (that’s pronounced like ‘battle-axe lab’ heh) as an undergrad back when he was at Purdue. He seemed to be the main guy developing the stuff.

    It does promote regeneration of nearby tissue into the shape of the matrix provided. Seven years ago, they’d already made artificial bladders, repaired heart wounds and heart valves in dogs, and it did great work on skin (no hair regrowth though) The biggest problem is that pig bladder and pig intestine ecm is flimsy. You could use it to rebuild someone’s aorta if you could get it to just not break in the meantime…. I don’t know what progress they’ve made since then.

  11. If your model plane is of the flying variety, then building it can require woodworking tools quite capable of chopping your finger off. No, I agree that an Xacto knife could not cut off a fingertip without determined deliberate effort.

    And while…

    – … whole fingertips can be re-grown by kids of age up to 11;
    – … scientists are currently looking into the protein paths and cell types that could allow for this sort of thing in older people,
    – … they have managed to re-grow the entire wing of a chicken embryo;
    – … many reptiles can regrow limbs and tails (including the bone structure), and adult humans can re-grow livers starting with only a small piece of a healthy liver;
    – … how bones grow (given factors like the hormones around them, age, and the loads they are under) is fairly well-understood (thus allowing most fractures to be heal-able with proper care);

    … scientists have not, AFAIK, been able to lead an adult human to regrow a body part that includes bones.




    Then again…



  12. I’d like to nominate “…somehow, the matrix…” as the least confidence-inspiring phrase ever to appear in a scientific explanation of anything.

  13. This preview is rated R, and is not suitable for those under 17 or unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.

    The scientists didn’t believe in the Law of Unintended Consequences. So they went ahead with their extracellular matrix experiments. But little did they know that a renegade researcher sent some of the untested powder to his brother after a fingertip accident involving a model airplane.

    “Put the powder on the finger,” read the instructions. And the brother did just that.


    Now a new movie from New Line Cinema… The Fingertip. Rated R for Gore and Violence.

  14. an xacto knife can cut the tip of a finger off. I lost the tip of my thumb while cutting mat-board with an xacto, half way through the nail. That whole thing grew back with out any pig bladder. I’ve just got a scar at the tip slightly larger than a pin head.

  15. Apparently we can regenerate fingertips without the need for pig bladders, bacon, acts of God or voodoo.

    I read an article just last week about this; the doc in the article said we can regrow fingertips from tip to to the distal joint (between the fingertip and where the finger first bends). He also mentioned he wishes he could figure out what the difference between amputations above and below that joint.

    I couldn’t remember where I read the article, but came across this one online: Regeneration in higher vertebrates: Limb buds and digit tips which stated: “For both children and adults, regeneration of the fingertip involves the integrated regeneration of many tissues, including nail matrix, nail bed, finger pulp, sensory organs, dermis and epidermis, all of which reform to a normal or near normal cosmetic and physiological state through healing by secondary intention.” No mention of pig bladders or bacon at all.

  16. This would have come in quite handy for Frodo near the end of Return of the King. It just goes to show what I’ve always said: Elvish magic is junk compared to good ol’ fashioned pig bladder.

  17. There is an article on this in the latest Scientific American (the one with “Plants from Outer Space” on the cover) which also has a man who regrew his fingertip. It doesn’t mention pig bladders, but instead focuses on something that salamanders have that can make entire limbs grow back.

    It is an interesting article, and appears to suggest that the ability for us to re-grow limbs is possible and perhaps likely in the not too distant future.

  18. Am I the only one recalling that even without magical pig powder, fingertips grow back? Seriously, if you cut off your fingertip (no more than part of the distal phalanx), it will grow back, nail and all. This is a well-known scientific fact, and unless this guy removed part of his intermediate phalanx (or if his finger grew back significantly faster than is normal), there’s no story here.

  19. I dunno about this guy, but I do remember some years ago, when the Vacanti brothers were doing similar things. I seem to remember them growing a sheep’s heart using the then-newly-discovered stem cells. The old photo we know of the rat with the ear on his back also came from the Vacantis.

    The technology has been improving for awhile, so I do hope it becomes reliable enough for the masses, soon.

  20. I’m skeptical. Fingertips severed above the top knuckle have long been known to regenerate if the wound is not closed. Let’s see if they can demonstrate this with some other body part.

  21. Article says that if swallowed one would grow a secondary but curlied tongue.

    Bacon placebo, Mmmmm.

  22. I lopped the end of my left middle finger in 1975 (it was a slow afternoon at the book bindery up until the incident, and made up for the fact I wasn’t going to the Worldcon anyway), and while the emergency room doc took some nice snaps of the injury, I never got the option of leaving the wound open and letting my body grow another fingertip / nail. I used to read the medical magazines for the nasty bits, and then afterwards, I was the nasty bits. Go figure, eh?

    Thirty years later, if I could (1) get a doctor to remove the skin graft and nasty fingertip I have lived with, and (2) find someone to sell me the damned powder, I’d do the regenerated finger thing in a heartbeat. I suppose I’d have to get used to having a different length finger all over again, as well.

    If you find the article about fingertip amputations that he published (not sure if it was in the Journal of the New England Medical Association or some other august tome), I’m the left hand with the silver and turquoise ring on the little finger. The skin graft site on my left forearm looked like some sort of weird postage stamps (there were two done) for many years, but it’s barely perceptible now. Time flies.

  23. Manpig, manpig, does whatever a manpig does.

    My grandfather’s brother cut the last joint of his index finger off when they were kids. It was a case of “I bet you can’t move your finger in time!” “Oh crap, you didn’t move your finger in time!” when the older brother was chopping wood.

    Doctor who sewed it back on was drunk. It’s crooked.

  24. I just currently lost my finger tip below my third nuckle in a really bad car accident and I am seriously interested in finding out if regrowth is a possibility. Does anyone have any real legitimate information they can share? If so I would appreciate it my email is Preciosalyn87@hotmail.com

  25. By the way my name is rebbecca. but if anyone does have any real information or a contact for this please let me know. thanks

  26. might I strongly suggest you speak with your physician. Who knows what substances are being sold out there?

  27. OK… lets explore this idea a little further…

    what else might we be able to regenerate? a hand? an arm? two arms? two arms and a leg? organs? brain or nerve tissue?

    if the gentleman’s new fingernails grow back faster, then maybe people who value perfect hands will chop off their old ones to regenerate fresh new ones….

    or maybe they’ll chop even more off than just a hand… maybe they’ll systematically replace their whole body? nose? face? lips? both legs, replaced with newborn flesh? get rid of all that extra skin from a big weight loss? hands, arms, legs, feet, torso? private parts?

    and if this is a plentiful resource that can come out of all those pigs we slaughter every day.. wow. imagine what people will be doing…

  28. Can we regrow an entire body (without a brain)? All we have to do after that is brain transplant. Just imagine the possible applications.

  29. I lost the end of my little finger exactly a year ago to the day, simply closed the door of a BMW and hey left it in the door aperture, I was absolutely devastated, it may sound shallow but my hands are my life, they are my work. My partner came across Mr Pigs Bladder and suggested that I may be good UK challenge for him, he replied and promised in depth that it would be possible, my hopes were extremely high but then after many emails he just stopped replying. He possibly helped me through my loss but I am still missing the end of my pinky….:-(

  30. Would this work for teeth? What a help that would be to those of us with lots of tooth problems!

  31. I just visited the McGowan institute. They have also used this method successfully on a dolphin’s severed dorsal fin.

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