Theory:Rapid cell regeneration

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The following fan theories are about Rapid cell regeneration.

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Theory Citations Notes
This power depends of the individual self-image. It heals the person using it to what they think they should like. None + All powers come from the brain.
This has not been proven in the show.

+ Claire's hair also "regenerates" when she is burned by Ted's power.

- This is probably because they can't cut the actress's hair.
They can make a 100% burnt Claire digitally, so they probably could have done a hairless Claire pretty easily. The brain restores the body to its last known healthy form, which is WITH the hair.

+ Peter's tattoo vanishes minutes after is made.

- Tattoos are essentially made by wounding the body, thus leading to regeneration.
+ Average human healing grows back skin and flesh, if you get a transplant, the body rejects it, so Peter would heal to whatever he thinks he looks like.
Arthur doesn't get younger once he steals Adam's ability.
- He stole the ability. That may explain why he didn't suddenly "de-age".
- Aging is caused by DNA degrading while cells split. Regeneration would simply stop this process from continuing from whatever point the body started regenerating. This point in DNA degradation would be the "standard model" for all future mitosis, any DNA that degrades and no longer fits this model is regenerated, therefore regeneration only prevents aging from continuing.

+ Claire's hair seems to grow back, but Peter very obviously has gotten a haircut.

+ Having the hair cut is not something dangerous. Having the hair burned with radiation is more dangerous.
- Then getting a new hair style would require long periods of intense meditation, gradually adding the new hair to one's self-image. Unless Claire is secretly a Buddhist master, this is very unlikely.

- If this were true, then a regenerator who had their memories erased (and thus had no self-image) could be tricked into transforming to look like someone else by simply showing them a person's photograph and claiming that is what they look like.

This power creates the matter necessary for new body parts to grow. None + Growth needs matter, which would usually be taken from the body, leading to weight loss, and yet none of the known evolved humans with this power displayed this.
- Maybe the wounds aren't big enough to be noticed by the body.
+ Peter loses a great deal of blood in Homecoming with no adverse side effects.
While it is explained as an overload of powers, Peter did become sick shortly after that incident, which could indicate that matter was appropriated from various organs (albeit not enough to have an immediate loss of health) in order to create enough blood for him to survive.
Peter's nose bleeds after he opens the safe with the virus in it.
That was related to strain, not wounds.
If that's the case, then the power would break one of the main rule of physics (that matter cannot be created, only transformed).
+ Matter can be created from energy. One of the founding principles of modern physics is Einstein's formula equating energy and matter (e=mc^2;energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light squared). Granted: it's absurd by modern technological standards, but this show is fantasy, and the laws of physics need not even apply. Further, the power of 'Alchemy' already seems to break the general rule of conservation/non-creation of mass (not a law, fusion bombs cause a decrease in mass by fusion) by transmuting an element of a lesser atomic mass into gold, or any element into another element with a higher mass.
While all this about Einsteins formula is true, matter is still converted from energy into matter, and vice versa. It is impossible to create matter and energy from nothing, but not to convert it. There is a difference in creating and converting.

Whether or not this theory is actually suggesting this or not, the ability's means of producing new cells is certainly the same as with all other organisms (the DNA of cells being replicated, leading to the entire cell being duplicated), just at a highly accelerated rate. The cells required to replace damaged ones are created exactly the same as those of other organisms.
+ The ability could involve a recycling of the matter from the damaged tissue to create new, healthy tissue.

- Maybe the original matter wasn't around.
Heroes with this power cannot contract the Shanti virus. None + Peter shows no symptoms of the virus when landing in an infected future New York.
- It is possible that the symptoms may not have appeared until later.
- Peter was radioactive, he might have irradiated any surrounding viruses without knowing it.
Caitlin was near him for quite a while, she'd have been irradiated as well.
+ Peter didn't display symptoms even later.
- Neither does Caitlin.
This could simply be due to the fact that Peter and Caitlin are not near anyone with the virus. It's unknown how contagious it is, or whether it could be airborne all over New York.

+ Bob believes Claire is the key to curing the virus.

- Bob is a liar.
Claire's blood does indeed heal the virus.
This was achieved through a combination of Claire's blood and Mohinder's antibodies, which implies that regeneration alone is not enough to counter the virus.

- Peter was supposed to have died in the outbreak from the Shanti virus in the alternate future shown in Out of Time.

- The CDC and Angela said he died on the first outbreak.
Peter does not have this ability; he is able to mimic this ability. The virus might prevent him from accessing his empathic ability to mimic rapid cellular regeneration.
Also, it's unknown what the status of Peter's powers are at the point in the alternate future when he comes in contact with the virus. He might have had an encounter with Arthur before that point, or been in proximity to The Haitian, or something else which would have rendered his regeneration inert. Or the theory below that the Shanti virus is of posthuman origin, which regeneration may not protect against.

Adam seems very certain that he will survive the release of the virus--of course, his self-image is astronomical, and he has a god complex.
+ When Claire lost her ability during the second eclipse she develops a lot of health issues (and one doctor/nurse commented it was like she's never been exposed to anything before). Her regeneration power presumably acts as an immune system before her body's natural one reacts and provides her with antibodies. As she has shown she's also immune (or at least highly resistant) to the effects of alcohol, the regeneration ability seems to have some kind of general "cleaning" effect.

The exact process of rapid cell regeneration involves a rapid release of some sort of healing chemical from the brain into the bloodstream. None + Although abilities are centered in the brain, Adam was able to heal Nathan by giving him some of his blood. (Four Months Ago...)

+ Claire was not able to heal when she had a branch stuck in her head. Peter was not able to heal with the shard of glass in his head. Obstructions such as these could prevent the release of the "healing chemical".
It is possible that another bodily fluid, such as tears from either Adam or Claire, could heal people.

If tears would work, then it would effectively make Claire and Adam like phoenix, seeing as phoenixes are meant to have healing tears.
"Death" is caused by piercing of the cerebellum and brain stem. None + It is in that region they are both pierced.

+ The cerebellum controls motor functions making the body paralyzed. The brain stem controls the heart. Block that connection and the heart stops.
+ With blood stopped, regeneration would slow as cells are in hibernation. As soon as the object blocking the connection is removed, the heart restarts and regeneration resumes its rapid rate and consciousness returns.
- In "I Am Become Death" Peter and Future Claire were caught, point blank, in a nuclear explosion that destroyed Costa Verde. It's nearly impossible to consider that individuals caught in such a blast, even at greater range, wouldn't be vaporized, brain and all. Needless to say, if a person can regenerate from complete vaporization, they should be able to withstand their brain being pierced.
- When Danko supposedly "kills" Sylar, and calls in a clean up crew, Sylar regenerates and answers Danko's question by saying that he "moved the spot..." (An Invisible Thread)

+ Sylar stated that he was only able to move the spot because of his newly acquired shape shifting.
The speed of regeneration will become progressively quicker. None + Adam has been able to heal at a much faster rate in the present than he did in the past.
If you revived a healer after they were impaled with something causing "death" by pulling it out of them thousands of years later, they would revive unaffected. None - This would require the brain to have remained intact and relatively unharmed. This would almost require extensive planning, and even with that would be very unlikely.

+ In Collision, it is stated that Claire was dumped naked in a river since the night before, considering the conditions, the brain would have not been intact after this much time had passed, yet she was able to regenerate.

- While there could be significant damage to the brain from spending a night in a river, it would be very minor compared to the deterioration that would be seen over the course of centuries. Most immediate damage to the body shortly after death is to organs that are directly accessible to insects and microbes (skin, lungs, etc), while protected organs like the brain take a bit more time.

There is a certain part of Chile where the formation of rain clouds is impossible due to geography and wind patterns. The deserts there have no bacteria, making bodily decay impossible. People who died thousands of years ago have been found in perfect condition. If the regenerator's body was there, then they'd be fine.

This power wouldn't stop you from being killed if you were strangled. None - This wouldn't kill a person if they can survive without oxygen. Adam can survive without oxygen in his grave.

- While this might be a good and realistic limitation, Adam Monroe is able to fake his death with drowning.
- Fire saps the oxygen from the air, but it did not stop Claire.

She was still affected though.
- There is a theory that Claire's feelings of suffocation were entirely psychological.

- As soon as you let go of the regenerator's neck, they would come back to life as oxygen flow was restored.

When Meredith made the air thin in One of Us, One of Them, Claire couldn't breathe. None - It may be that over-time Adam has adapted to survive without oxygen; he was buried alive in a casket without it. Claire has never been in that situation except that one time, and has only lived for 16 years.
+ Adam died dozens of times in his coffin. (The Ten Brides of Takezo Kensei)

- Claire's body was tricked into thinking it couldn't breathe. Meredith explains this in One of Us, One of Them.

Claire's mind was tricked, not her body.
Supercharging this ability would result in an individual immune to having his/her memories erased. None + Peter has already healed his own mind after having memories erased, but it required conscious effort.

+ It has been noted that tempering with the mind leaves "scars".
+ Supercharging this ability could make the healing of the mind something passive, no longer needing conscious effort.
- Sylar's regeneration didn't heal Matt Parkman's manipulations even once something familiar and emotionally significant was present (the slow clock is probably about as emotionally significant thing as Sylar could experience nowadays). Peter's healing seemed to occur quite rapidly once something kick-started it.

The only significance of the clock was to show Sylar still has access to some of his powers.

In order to test this theory, a regenerator needs to be affected by ability supercharging and mental manipulation or telepathy simultaneously... Sounds insanely complicated.

Supercharging this ability too much would result in the persons mind unable to retain new information. None - Neural connections made from new information doesn't constitute injury, or something that needs healing.
Supercharging this ability would result in the people around the regenerator to temporarily heal. None - Regenerators can heal others through their blood, no supercharging required.
The theory implies that supercharging rapid cell regeneration would cause people in the immediate vicinity of the regenerator to heal spontaneously, with no blood injection required.

- It makes no sense for people not directly involved with the abilities to be affected, it would only make the regeneration faster or more effective.
+ When Ando supercharged Daphne's ability, they were able to rescue Hiro: Hiro is not directly involved with Daphne's ability, but she was able to make her amplified power affect Hiro and Ando as well.

- Ability extension has been shown to happen with super speed, Daphne has shown she's able to take someone in super speed, such thing was never shown with rapid cell regeneration without a blood transfusion.
It would be possible to acquire a mild form of enhanced strength simply by weight lifting when having this ability, because the muscle tissue would rebuild instantly. "The good news is, you've certainly got the strength..." - Noah Bennet to Claire in The Eclipse, Part 1 + Claire has not been shown to try to do much serious exercise, explaining why she doesn't have any serious strength. But she isn't that weak either.

+ It would be a method for Claire to become more useful.
+ Muscles would be able to repair as they tear, bones would be able to mend as they break, effectively increasing the limit of a persons strength.
If not superhuman strength, then at least superhuman stamina and endurance by preventing fatigue toxins from hindering the body's muscles as fast.

The inability to feel pain is the enhanced form of this ability. None + After a massive amount of adrenaline when encountering Sylar, Claire can no longer feel pain.

+ Claire could feel pain during the eclipse. The eclipse only takes away abilities, indicating that the loss of pain was an effect of her ability.
+ All other nervous system functions and touch sensations remain intact.
+ The ability seems to have lessened pain from the start; despite that Claire claims that it does not. During the eclipse, both Sylar and Claire complain about 'pain' when they previously have not. Sylar could barely stand to have his bone set without the ability. Claire had never once complained about pain until she was in the hospital. Since this is an effect of the power, it is likely to be able to grow stronger in its effect.
+ Immunity to pain is useful in practice, particularly when bodily damage is no threat at all.
+ When Peter Petrelli had René's power in Let It Bleed, Claire cut her finger (which did not heal) and felt pain, because he was negating her power accidentally.

The spot that can kill a regenerator is the part of the brain that controls the power. None + All regenerators die at least temporarily when the spot is penetrated or in Arthur's case, destroyed.

This is a bit obvious.
- When Sylar is feeling around in Claire's brain for her powers ("Second Coming"), he does not appear to examine the same area where the stick punctured her ("One Giant Leap"). This suggests that Claire's powers and her "killing spot" are not located in the same part of the brain.

+ After the coroner removed the stick, she healed. This suggests that the spot it punctured was responsible for the manifestation of her power in the rest of the body, the communication channel between head and torso. It's possible this is a different power related spot.
- There is no part of the brain that controls the power. Mohinder has already established that powers are nestled in the adrenal glands, and not the brain. Which begs the question, why do regenerators not heal if they have something lodged in their brain? They don't seem to have a problem with bullets in their forehead, and their adrenal glands are in their abdomen. The whole concept of RCR in this series doesn't make sense, because they decided to retcon the source of powers (used to be brain, as Chandra believed, is now adrenal glands, as Mohinder discovered).
It's possible that the power resides in the brain but is charged by the adrenal glands. The human body has many different pieces keeping it running smoothly; since DNA, the brain (also confirmed by Chandra in Six Months Ago), emotions (notably guilt and empathy) and adrenal glands have all been successfully linked to the forming and using of abilities, it is possible that powers also need a variety of mechanisms keeping it going.
- The stick merely acted as a dam, preventing her blood (which, when separated from her body, still has healing properties shown in Truth & Consequences and with the Shanti Virus) from traveling.
+ Blood was still all over her circulatory system, to stop blood flow, something would have to be done to the heart.
They have not yet discussed the science behind Claire's regenerative powers. It is possible that the blood has to flow through the part of the brain with the ability in order to have healing properties.
Considering both the brain and the adrenal glands, the brain would need to send a signal to the adrenal glands so it would release adrenaline, activating the ability.

- Sylar has stated that Claire can't die.

+ BTE has confirmed that regenerators can die.
+ Arthur acquired the ability and was still killed.
The sweetspot (or killspot) is different for every regenerator. Arthur died from a bullet between the eyes, and didn't expell it like other regenerators have, perhaps because that is the killspot for Adam's regeneration. Claire's sweetspot carried over to those who stole or mimicked it. + Only lodging objects in the sweetspot kills the regenerator, so therefore "between-the-eyes" might be the sweetspot for Adam and Arthur.

- The bullet may have gone between the eyes and lodged in the back of the head, thereby keeping all regenerators (excepting Sylar) weak in the back of the head.
- Arthur took regeneration from Adam and Peter, so he would have two sweetspots.
- Arthur was not "shot" between the eyes. Sylar had already stopped the bullet with TK. He then purposefully propelled the bullet directly into where he already knew the sweet spot was with TK. That is why the bullet didn't come out the back of Arthur's head, and why Arthur died.

Nope. When Sylar stopped the bullet, the bullet itself was still moving in its own place, as if it was being held back, similar to being frozen in time. It didn't even change its trajectory.
- Telekinesis does not work as a time stop effect. He stopped the bullet completely and held it in place, exactly the same as he has done in the past. When Arthur failed the "truth" test, he simply propelled it forward along its already established path and stopped it in the sweet spot. The bullet's trajectory didn't have to change because Peter has already shot it in the right place.
Sylar has used intuitive aptitude to find out how to activate and deactivate this ability, explaining how Future Peter can still have his scar. When Sylar was cutting "I Am Sylar" into his arm, he didn't heal until he had finished the sentence. + It makes sense.

- Claire doesn't always heal immediately, it takes a couple seconds sometimes.
- Sylar wanted a reminder, so he cut the phrase on his arm. If he could deactivate regeneration, he would.
- Regeneration is a passive ability.

+ Sylar can delay the process. (Turn and Face the Strange)

- He may have used telekinesis to hold the wounds open.
- Future Hiro went back in time to tell Peter to save the cheerleader. This lead Peter to meet Claire much earlier than he would have done otherwise, meaning Future Peter could have got his scar before he met Claire in the alternate Explosion Future. This would mean a scarred Peter would be the template for his future celular regeneration.

If this ability was supercharged, it would have similar effects to impenetrable skin. None - While both abilities deal with resisting harm, regeneration works by repairing the harm, whereas impenetrable skin prevents it altogether.
Brain tumors can kill people with this ability. Tumors are living tissue, and grow stronger with her regenerative blood. (Tabula Rasa) + If a regenerator were to get a brain tumor, the ability wouldn't protect him/her, maybe even damaging the part of the brain responsible for the power.
Maybe it can be removed surgically, they don't even need anesthesia, as long as none of it is left behind.
Their bodies could also regenerate parts that die because of the tumor.
Sylar, in particular, can shape shift his brain, he might have an advantage.

- A regenerator's body is highly efficient; when she was cooked by Ted's power in Company Man, her ability restored her without any problems. The amount of radiation she was exposed to should have caused tumors to develop all over her body, but her body sensed that the 'immature' tumors were 'abnormal' and destroyed them. Even if a regenerator developed a tumor somehow, it would be obliterated by their ability.

+ Other people were exposed to Ted's radioactivity, none of them developed tumors. Either everyone got lucky, or the radiation wasn't the type that creates tumors easily. The only person ever known to have developed tumors because of Ted's ability was his wife.
- Karen was given cancer due to steady doses of low radiation over a period of time. Claire was blasted with an obscene amount of radiation in a short amount of time. The results should have been almost identical.
+ They could still have been exposed to a radiation that doesn't give cancer easily. Not all radiation is ionizing, and Ted is able to emit non-ionizing radiation.
- With the amount of radiation Claire was exposed, cancer would be certain, no matter what kind of radiation she was exposed to.

- If regenerator blood had the same effect on the regenerator that it did on recipients, then even a small, benign tumor would kill them within minutes of its formation. As their blood made it grow, the area in which the tumor was would bulge and finally rupture as the now-massive tumor exploded from their body.

Rapid cell regeneration involves perfect cell replication. Tumors would grow as a result of this ability ("Tabula Rasa"). + If you were to accelerate the normal cell reproduction process in a human to the speeds of rapid cell regeneration, mutations - and therefore cancerous cells and tumors - would occur very often.

This is to say, while a tumor would kill someone with this ability, it is impossible for them to get one.
+ Those with rapid cell regeneration do not age past a certain point. If cell replication was as in a normal human, but accelerated, they would actually age much faster than others.

If a regenerator was shot through the center of the brain, they would survive, because the abilities are located at the back of the head. When Sylar pokes through Claire's head, he is looking at the back of the brain. (The Second Coming) Adam's regeneration may be different from Claire's. Angela told Nathan and Matt to shoot him just in the head, and Arthur, who took Adam's ability, died when the bullet went through his forehead.
This power has the potential to cause cancer. None + Cancer is caused by cells replicating to much, and this power works by replicating cells to replace lost cells.
- No one with this power has cancer.
+ No one we know of has it, someone we don't know of might have it.
- Cancer is caused by uncontrolled cellular replication, this power only creates enough cells to replace missing ones, it doesn't produce any more or less than that.

- When a regenerator's blood is injected into another person, it probably "reboots" them genetically, healing injuries by restoring the body to the state its DNA says it should be in. Since cancer cells are naturally predisposed toward replication, rebooting cancer cells could cause them to replicate more quickly.

Regeneration involves metabolizing background radiation. None. + [Certain types] of fungus can absorb radiation and convert it into nourishment. A hyper-efficient version of this could make the seeming "creation" of new matter to heal injuries possible.

+ This would explain why Claire's ability didn't malfunction after being exposed to Ted's meltdown (which would have exposed her to more than enough ionizing radiation to turn her DNA into confetti); her ability gave her a form of immunity to radiation's ill effects.

  Theories edit
See Also: 9RedTime travelRapid cell regeneration