A team of scientists from the American University of Tufts has succeeded in partially regenerating the legs of amputated frogs by means of progesterone treatment using a portable bioreactor attached to the wound site, according to the journal Cell Reports.
The findings of this study may be a model for new cell stimulation therapies and allow progress in the treatment of amputation injuries in humans.
Some species of the animal world, such as lizards or crabs, can regenerate themselves, but this does not happen in the case of the African nail frog, known under the scientific name Xenopus laevis and studied in this study.
This type of water frog can regenerate its limbs in the early stages of its life, but loses that ability in adulthood.
The researchers divided the frogs into three groups to perform their experiment and they were all sewn with the portable bioreactor instead of the wound that left the amputation.
Only the frogs of one of the groups received progesterone for a period of 24 hours by the bioreactor and the researchers observed a partial regeneration of their limbs for nine months that was not visible in the other two groups.
"A very short application of the bioreactor and its useful burden (of progesterone) caused months of growth and tissue patterns," explained Michael Levin, one of the study's authors and a biologist at the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Massachusetts. (USA).
The progesterone-treated frogs showed partially regenerated legs, bones, innervation and vascularity and were able to swim when placed in water as if they had not been amputated.
Progesterone is a sex hormone known for its functions in the development and development of pregnancy, but it has also been shown to promote the repair of nerves, blood vessels and bone tissue.
"We looked at progesterone because it seemed promising to promote nerve repair and regeneration, it also modulates the immune response to promote healing and triggers the regrowth of blood vessels and bones," said neuroscientist Celia Herrero-Rincón, author of the study.
The next step for the researchers is to conduct a similar study in mammals and to gain more evidence that the drug / device combination can be a new model to test therapeutic cocktails that enable regeneration in non-regenerative species.
In the world there are millions of people living with some limb, inferior or superior, amputated and only in the United States there are two million in that situation.