A group of scientists from the American University of Tufts managed to partially regenerate the legs of amputated frogs through progesterone treatment using a portable bioreactor connected to the wound site, according to Cell Reports.
The results of this research may be a model for novel cell stimulation therapies and allow progress in the treatment of amputation injuries in humans.
Some species of the animal world like lizards or crabs are able to regenerate, but this does not happen in the case of the African nail, known by the scientific name of Xenopus laevis and examined in this study.
This type of tree frog is able to regenerate the limbs early in 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 in place of the wound left by the amputation.
Only the frogs of one of the groups received progesterone through the bioreactor for a period of 24 hours and the researchers observed in them, in nine months, a partial regeneration of their ends not seen in the other two groups.
"A very short application of the bioreactor and its payload (of progesterone) has caused months of growth and tissue models," said Michael Levin, one of the study authors and a biologist at the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Massachusetts. (USA).
The frogs treated with progesterone showed partially regenerated legs, bones, innervation and vascularization and could swim when they were immersed in water as if they had not been amputated.
Progesterone is a sex hormone known for its functions at the beginning and during the development of pregnancy, but has also been shown to promote the repair of nerves, blood vessels and bone tissue.
"We examined 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 on mammals and try to get more evidence that the drug-device combination could be a new model for testing therapeutic cocktails that would induce 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.