The science of regeneration takes a leap forward

Madrid, 8 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) .- Researchers led by biologists and engineers from Tufts University, in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, discovered that the supply of progesterone to a site of injury by amputation can induce the regeneration of limbs in adult frogs that would not otherwise regenerate, a discovery that drives the understanding of regeneration and could help advance the treatment of amputation injuries.
The researchers created a portable bioreactor attached to the site of the wound to administer progesterone locally for a period of 24 hours and found that it had a beneficial beneficial effect on tissue regrowth, allowing the frogs to partially regenerate their hind limbs. A mere 24-hour exposure led to nine months of changes in gene expression, innervation, and pattern growth.
The finding, whose details are published on Tuesday in the journal 'Cell Reports', suggests that the drug-device combination could be a new model to systematically prove and deploy therapeutic cocktails that could induce regeneration in non-regenerative species.
Many animals are capable of regeneration; In fact, planar worms and sea cucumbers can spawn entire individuals from fragments when they are cut into pieces. Partial regeneration is observed in other species: lizards re-develop tails, some crabs re-create claws, and antlers grow antlers every year.
'Xenopus laevis', or the African claw frog examined in this study, can regenerate the limbs when they are in their tadpole stages, but they gradually lose that capacity as they become adults. Until now, it was not known if adult frogs were capable of a significant regeneration response.
Progesterone promotes nerve regeneration
For human beings, the ability to regenerate would be a welcome development, especially for millions of people living with amputations of limbs, of which there are two million in the United States. The authors of the study point out that, although the restoration of limbs has been a long-sought objective in biomedical research, very little has been reported about the reconstruction or repair of limbs lost in non-regenerative animals.
Starting with the successful outcome of this study, researchers are exploring factors and modes of treatment to better understand how to induce regeneration in organisms that have lost or never had that capacity. "We considered 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, "explains the study's lead author, Celia Herrera-Rincon.
He adds: "Progesterone can also regulate the bioelectrical state of cells, caused by cells passing ions through their outer membranes, which is known to drive regeneration and the formation of body patterns." The examination of growing limbs in the experiments confirmed these beneficial effects of the substance.
The laboratory of David Kaplan, professor of Family Engineering; President of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Tufts School of Engineering and Director of the Neural Sciences, Disease and Engineering Initiative at Tufts developed the portable bioreactor that administers progesterone. The device contains a hydrogel based on silk proteins that is applied directly to the wound and is capable of delivering small molecule compounds to the site. Future experiments will explore additional factors that may enhance or enhance the effects of progesterone.
"We will use the bioreactor model as a new platform to find 'master regulator' control points, activated by drugs that, after very brief treatment, trigger a long program of tissue growth and remodeling, as well as other factors that support the whole process of regeneration, "says another of the authors of this work, Michael Levin.
"The fact that the model applies treatments locally, which can also vary over time and the location of the wound, makes this a powerful tool for discovering regeneration therapies," adds Levin, professor of biology at the School of Arts and Sciences. Sciences and director of the Allen Center of Discoveries at Tufts, where regeneration studies were carried out. Tests are being performed on models of mammalian extremities.

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