Frogs with amputated legs had enhanced limb regeneration when fitted with a revolutionary device.
Scientists claim this so-called ‘bioreactor’ helps the animals regrow legs by ‘kick-starting’ the advanced healing process using the hormone progesterone.
Progesterone is crucial to pregnancy and it is now believed that the chemical could help find a cure for spinal cord injuries.
Adult aquatic African clawed frogs were fitted with a specialist ‘bioreactor’ that uses the hormone progesterone to improve healing.
Findings, published today in the Journal Cell Reports, introduce a new model for testing ‘electroceuticals’ – or cell-stimulating therapies.
Study senior author Dr Michael Levin, developmental biologist at Tufts University, said: ‘At best, adult frogs normally grow back only a featureless, thin, cartilaginous spike
‘Our procedure induced a regenerative response they normally never have, which resulted in bigger, more structured appendages.
‘The bioreactor device triggered very complex downstream outcomes that bioengineers cannot yet micromanage directly.’