Legs seem to grow back on legless frogs in a new test

To promote regenerative growth in an organism that doesn’t regenerate naturally, such as an adult frog or a human, researchers have experimented with stem cell transplants or gene therapy. But these methods can be extremely complicated to implement, says Dr. Murugan.

Dr Levin suggests an easier approach is to activate the animal’s own body and cells to regenerate the limb.

To do this, the researchers needed to create a protected environment around the wound to limit scarring in the early stages of tissue repair – “to convince every cell in it that,’ Okay, we’re on a leg development program’,” said Dr. Levin.

They created a wearable silicone cap called the BioDome, which is filled with a silk protein hydrogel. Dr. Murugan researched all commercially available drugs to promote regeneration before introducing this blend of five drugs into the BioDome and releasing it onto the wound.

In 2017, researchers began an 18-month trial. On the first day of the trial, a graduate student at the time, Annie Golding, and a researcher, Quang L. Pham, created a mixture of the drug and BioDomes. Dr. Murugan – along with a technician, Kelsie Miller, and a university student, Hannah Vigran – performed 13 hours of surgery on 115 anesthetized female frogs.

For the next year and a half, the frogs ate and swam under the care of aquaculture technician, Erin Switzer, while the researchers waited patiently.

Dr. Murugan said that at around 4 months of age, the frog’s limbs began to differ, depending on which of the three experimental groups. Legs seem to grow back on legless frogs in a new test

Fry Electronics Team

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