Researchers Getting Better at Regenerating Lab Animals’ Limbs

Regrowing human limbs is a much bigger challenge, but some researchers think they’ll live to see it.

Like humans, African clawed frogs can’t regrow missing limbs — yet. Scientists have gotten frogs with amputated legs to grow new, leglike appendages in the laboratory, and may be able to help humans regrow limbs in your lifetime.

Researchers at Tufts University applied a five-drug cocktail to the stumps where the frogs’ legs had been amputated. For 24 hours they let the stumps soak in the treatment, which was designed to instruct cells to multiply.

Within 18 months, the frogs had grown leglike limbs from their amputations and were using them to swim. Though their new appendages had no toenails or webbing between the toes, the legs were fully functional, complete with new skin, vasculature, nerves, and most of the necessary bone.

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