By: Abigail Hernandez Castillo & Thalia Pliego
As the world changes everyday, science changes and evolves everyday as well. There have been advances in all areas of science and regrowing limbs in adult frogs is one of them. According to CBS News, scientists at Tufts University and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have been able to regrow amputated limbs. A study that was published in Science Advances shows how the researchers used a chemical cocktail to induce this growth on the frogs’ limbs. Currently, “The ability to regrow limbs is limited to ‘salamanders and superheroes,'” the team said in a press release. Science Advances further explains that, “For the study, scientists began by applying the five-drug chemical cocktail infused with silk protein gel to the African clawed frogs stump and they covered it with a silicone dome,” called the BioDome.
Both frogs and humans share a similarity, they both cannot regrow limbs. According to Live Science, based on a new study, researchers had successfully been able to get African clawed frogs to grow new replacement limbs in 18 months which was followed by a treatment that lasted 24 hours. Humans are able to close open wounds and use stem cells to regrow parts of the liver, similar to animals like salamanders who can regrow entire limbs. However, as of right now both frogs and humans cannot fully regrow limbs. “The cells of the frog already know how to make frog legs, our goal is to figure out how to convince them to do it again.” says Micheal Levin, a biologist at Tufts University.
According to Science News, Michael Levin and his team amputated the back legs of 115 adult African clawed frogs. ⅓ of these frogs received BioDomes, which are silicone sleeves that cover the wound on the legs. Researchers attached BioDomes holding a gel that contained 5 chemicals which included a nerve growth promoter, an anti-inflammatory substance, and a growth hormone to another third of the frogs. The last ⅓ of the frogs had not received any treatments before being placed into their tanks. The BioDomes had stayed on the African clawed frogs for 24 hours. So why use BioDomes? According to David Kaplan, a professor of engineering at Tufts University, “Using the BioDome cap in the first 24 hours helps mimic an amniotic-like environment, which, along with the right drugs, allows the rebuilding process to proceed without the interference of scar tissue”.
According to Science News, Over the next 18 months, frogs had grown new limbs after amputation. The ⅓ of the frogs that didn’t receive treatments grew a spiky stump. The ⅓ of the frogs that received BioDome devices and drugs grew the longest limbs with the greatest bone density and more blood vessels and nerves. According to CBS News, the new limbs had bones and several “toes” that grew at the end of the limbs, however, the toes did not have bones. The frogs were able to feel when the limb was brushed over with stiff fiber and could also use the new limb to swim through the water.
This new study could be beneficial to humans in the long run. It increases life quality. According to Fast Company, traumatic injury is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Americans. The most lifelong disability is limb loss from severe injury. These injuries are often caused by car accidents, athletic injuries, side effects of metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and even battlefield injuries. The treatment is far from being ready to be used in humans, but it is known that it only works immediately after injury. Uncovering and understanding his process is a start to a new beginning in regenerative medicine.
We interviewed a senior at Highland High for their input on this article. “I think this is a good discovery because if we know how to make frogs regrow limbs, hopefully in the future we can figure out how to make humans regrow limbs so that if a person has to get amputated, it will be less traumatizing because they will possibly be able to regrow it and have it like nothing ever happened.”