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Can Humans Regrow Limbs? A Lab Study With Frogs Offers Hope

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The research published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, scientists claim that they became successful to regrow the legs in adult frogs. 

In a breakthrough experiment, the researchers surgically remove the legs of African clawed frogs before encasing them in a silicone sleeve. The sleeve is filled with a blend of five drugs for 24 hours. After a period of 18-month limb regrowth occurs in frogs which led to the complete formation of functional legs, with almost normal bone structure and several toes.

The newly grown legs can move and reacted to touch. Moreover, the frogs can use them while swimming.In the study amputated 115 female African clawed frogs are divided into three subsets. One is kept without any treatment. A silicon bioreactor called a "BioDome," was cloaked on the second group whereas the third received a mixture of five drugs with the BioDome.The drugs are administered to the third group over 24 hours. The BioDome help to control the release of the drugs. The drugs induced effects like controlling inflammation and boosting tissue growth.

Then, the frogs from the third category started regrowing their limbs, and in almost 18 months they regain their hind legs.

Micheal Levin, a professor, and director of the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts University commented on this ground-breaking study,

“They weren’t perfect cosmetically, but they were pretty darn good legs,” 

The team is planning to experiment with the procedure on mammals. If it becomes successful, the researcher will eventually apply the same to humans. The study is, hence, a step of hope for amputees that they could get back their limbs one day.

Dr Nirosha Murugan, research affiliate at the Allen Discovery Center in Massachusetts and first author of the paper stated,

“The fact that it required only a brief exposure to the drugs to set in motion a months-long regeneration process suggests that frogs and perhaps other animals may have dormant regenerative capabilities that can be triggered into action.”

This study brought a ray of hope among amputees as 3.6 million Americans are expected to be living as amputees by 2050. Moreover, around 250,000 amputees are currently present in Britain, and almost 9,000 amputations are carried out each year because of diabetes.