It is believed that humans at one time had this ability, just as the liver today can regenerate itself, but that it was lost over time.
Researchers are looking into ways to restart the process, led by Anthony Metcalfe, professor of burns and wounds at the University of Brighton and director of research at the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation.
The foundation, based at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, has spent more than 50 years pioneering research into wound healing and reconstructive surgery. The hospital was where Sir Archibald McIndoe pioneered treatments for Second World War burns victims and where the Guinea Pig Club of patients who underwent experimental plastic surgery was formed.
Prof Metcalfe said: “The idea that humans once had the ability to regenerate skin comes from the notion that there are organs in the human body that can regenerate, like the liver. The idea would be to try and create an environment in and around the wound, for the regenerative mechanisms to be encouraged to occur, hopefully reducing scarring in the process.”