Narrator: This is Science Today. The sculpting of the face during embryonic development may be more open to change than was previously thought-this according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Jill Helms, a professor of orthopaedic surgery, led the study.
Helms: What we found in our study was that the length of time during which the face, its pattern can be altered, is greatly extended. In other words, defects could occur over a much wider range, but that also means that if defects did occur, and you wanted to think about strategies for repairing defects, you'd have a much bigger window of time in which to do it.
Narrator: In lab studies with chick and quail embryos, researchers found that by transplanting tissues, they could reprogram the face to adopt a new fate.
Helms: It was surprising first of all that a little piece of tissue had that much instructive capability. It meant that even when we transplanted it to a new location, the cells were still responsive to the signals. Meaning that plasticity of the face was maintained for much, much longer than we thought.