Scientists Successfully Grow Back Frog Legs! Humans Are Next?
When it comes to research into how to better our health scientists are looking at many options, often turning to animals who might have evolved to have a certain feature, or using them to test their theories. And most recently scientists who have been working on trying to grow animal limbs back have made a breakthrough in their case by growing back a leg on a frog. But how did they manage this? And could they soon be attempting such a thing on humans? Read on to find out about this new scientific breakthrough.
Can animals grow limbs back?
There are some animals that are able to grow back some limbs. Reptiles, for example, can grow back only their lost tails. When it comes to vertebrates only salamanders have managed to be able to achieve this. Tadpoles also have the ability but they lose it when they transform into adult frogs. In mammals, regeneration is limited to the epidermis and other things such as horns, claws, nails, hair, and the liver. But the regeneration of limbs is a task that is just too difficult for vertebrate organisms. But now, according to a new paper published in the Science Advances journal, scientists are closer to achieving their goals. How did it happen? Read on to find out.
Research On Frogs
Researchers from Tufts and Harvard Universities had managed to successfully regenerate a leg in a frog. As we mentioned previously, adult frogs do not have this ability but scientists were able to make it happen by using five different drugs that were administered topically with a specially created applicator. According to their reports, it only took one day to administer the drugs to the stump of the lost limb which then triggered a regeneration process which as they noted took a year and a half to be fully completed. Once that was done, the limb was fully functional.
How Exactly Was This Achieved?
When starting the process of their experiment they had covered the stumps of the amputated legs with a specially created container. The researchers involved in the study had called it the BioDome. It had contained a silk protein gel and it was in that substance that the five different drugs were dissolved in with the hopes of successful limb regeneration. But it is worth noting that the drugs used weren’t just a random mix that happened to work but each of them was used for a different effect. What was it? Read on to find out.
The Effects Of Drugs Used
The function of the first drugs was to stop the inflammatory process in the amputated area. The second was to stop the production of collagen which forms scars. The other three were supposed to stimulate the growth of nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. The main goal was also to stop the natural scarring process all because they serve to stop the bleeding and prevent infection at the site of injury. And while that is a good thing, they also stop the growth of other tissues and stiffen the area, which was a vital thing for the experiment.
It Was A Success But Not Completely
The five drugs used, as you know, were successful and the frog’s limb was beginning to grow back. At the start, the bony structures resembled that of a leg, the tissue was differentiated, and the nerves regenerated. After some time even fingers grew back but those were without bones. The limbs were functional and responded to stimuli just like the other legs. The animals had regained the ability to move in water and in reality, the only defect was the lack of toes in their feet.
Scientists Were Emotional
It was an emotional and exciting moment for the scientists who were lucky to see their hard work pay off. Professor Nirosha Murugan of the Tufts University had revealed that it wasn’t a coincidence that these drugs had worked, it was a months-long process. Murugan had also suggested that maybe this means that frogs, and maybe even other vertebrates, have dormant regenerative capacities that had become activated when those specific drugs were used.
Can Other Animals Do This As Well?
Of course, this success had people questioning what else can be done and which other animals could potentially grow back their limbs. Though here it is worth pointing out that so far, most animals that have these abilities, live in water. Though in other beings blastema forms, which is a mass of cells usually found at the embryonic stage of development. So for the time being it is difficult to say whether it will be possible. However, without a doubt, it is a step in the right direction. But could this eventually be used to regrow human limbs? Find out on the next page.
Why Regrow Limbs?
This all had started a conversation, about why would we even need to do such a thing? While for some, prosthetics might work well, and they are able to live their life without being hindered by them too much, they are still not the same as having a working limb. So chances are that should this ever be possible it could help millions of people live a normal life once again as it is also worth noting that not everyone is privileged enough to have access to high-standard prosthetics.
Could It Be Possible?
So while such a feat would drastically change and in many cases improve the lives of millions of people, is this something that could be achieved? Well for the time being no, though this is something that scientists are working towards. According to NBC News, the same team of researchers is now also trying to achieve the same thing in mammals but using mice. And despite the fact that should this be successful it will take a long time to achieve, it is a step in the right direction.
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