A team of scientists at the American University in Tufts managed to partially regenerate the feet of amputated frogs through progesterone therapy using a portable bioreactor attached to the wound site, according to Cell Reports.
The findings of this study may be a model for new cellular stimulation therapy and to make progress in the treatment of amputation injuries in humans.
Some species of animal world such as lizards or crabs can be regenerated, but this is not the case in the case of African frogs, known by the scientific name Xenopus laevis and studied in this study.
This species of water frog can regenerate its limbs in the early stages of its life, but loses that ability in adulthood.
Researchers split the frogs into three groups to carry out their experiment, all of which were sealed with a portable bioreactor instead of the wound left by the amputation.
Only the frogs of one of the groups received progesterone through the bioreactor over 24 hours, and the researchers observed, during nine months, partial regeneration of their extremities not visible in the other two groups.
"Very short application of the bioreactor and its bearing capacity (progesterone) caused months of breeding and tissue samples," explained Michael Levin, one of the authors of the study and biologist at Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, Massachusetts. (USA).
Progesterone-treated frogs showed partially regenerated legs, bones, inervation and vascularity, and could swim when placed in the water as if they were not amputated.
Progesterone is a sex hormone known for its functions in the onset and development of pregnancy, but has also been shown to promote the repair of nerves, blood vessels and bone tissue.
"We looked at progesterone because it seemed to be promising to promote nerve repair and regeneration, and also modulates the immune response to promoting healing and activates the growth of blood vessels and bones," said neuroscientist Celia Herrero-Rincon, the author of the study.
The next step for researchers is to conduct a similar study in mammals and try to gain more evidence that drug and drug combination may be a new model of testing therapeutic cocktails that allow inducing regeneration in non-regenerative species.
There are millions of people in the world living with some limbs, inferior or superstitious, amputated, and only in the United States there are two million in that situation.
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