Regrowing Human Body Parts

Michael Levin is a professor and scientist at Tufts University. His research is focused on regenerating limbs as in salamanders. He has so far done so in frogs and has even manipulated the development of frogs so that he can grow extra limbs or organs in odd places. He does so by manipulating bioelectricity in these organisms. Typically, at the site of a severed limb, the cells have an electric field that is positive, but in salamanders which can regrow limbs, this site is negative.

            By altering the mechanisms producing these electric potentials, Levin has been able to craft organisms such as six-legged frogs or frogs with eyes on their stomachs. He has also used this knowledge to reverse cancer cells in frogs which also have abnormal bioelectrical signals. Ultimately, Levin hopes to regrow limbs in humans using a mixture of chemicals that imitate the environment of a womb during early embryonic development.

            If this goal is reached, regeneration of a limb would develop as it would naturally meaning an arm regenerating for ten years would be that of a ten year old, small by comparison, but functional. I wonder if this method in addition to a scaffolding structure could be used to bypass this issue.

PIORE, A. (2017). the body electrician. Popular Science, 64-92.

Photo: Dennis Church/ Flickr

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