Perhaps everybody agreed at one point that regenerative medicine would use some new discoveries. That day might have finally come, as scientists from the US managed to successfully regrow the legs of a group of frogs, according to EuroNews.com.
An African clawed frog was used in the research, and it was given five drugs over the course of 24 hours. The treatment set in motion a period of regrowth of 18 months that restored a leg that was functional. The animal lacked the ability to naturally regenerate a leg.
Dormant regenerative capabilities?
Nirosha Murugan, the first author of the new study paper, explains as EuroNews.com quotes:
It’s exciting to see that the drugs we selected were helping to create an almost complete limb,
The fact that it required only a brief exposure to the drugs to set in motion a months-long regeneration process suggests that frogs and perhaps other animals may have dormant regenerative capabilities that can be triggered into action.
The scientists amputated a limb of each of the 115 African clawed frogs. They further split the animals into three groups. Only one of the groups received the full treatment.
Super excited to see this come out: https://t.co/6Cfe4LfhHL @msahsorin, @kaplan_lorax, and many others. Key points: 1) Just 24 hour stimulation with our MDT (= drugs + bioreactor) causes >1 year of leg growth. 2) very large, *adult* Xenopus (not just froglets/juveniles) 1/n
— Michael Levin (@drmichaellevin) January 26, 2022
Scientists stimulated the regenerative response in the frogs by starting with the enclosure of the wound for 24 hours. They did it in a BioDome, meaning a silicone cap that contained a silk protein gel loaded with the five drugs. Each of those drugs had a different purpose, such as stimulating the growth of blood vessels, nerve fibers, and muscles.
Michael Levin, who’s director of the Allen Discovery Centre at Tufts, admitted one important aspect, as EuroNews.com also quotes:
It’s a strategy focused on triggering dormant, inherent anatomical patterning programs, not micromanaging complex growth, since adult animals still have the information needed to make their body structures.
It’s obvious that the achievement could shed some light one day on how to help crippled humans who lost a leg or an arm.